In a passionate, emotional press conference, Sharks’ coach, Daniel Panaggio looked back at not only the playoff series with the Shanxi Dragons but also the 2011/12 CBA season itself. Rather than put it into small quotes in the match report, I thought it would be more interesting if I put it up in its entirety to get a better idea of Coach P’s thoughts on a season and a Shanghai team that have surprised a lot of people over the last few months.
DP: First of all, I’m very proud of our team. I told the guys in the locker room; I have been doing this [job] for a long time and I say this honestly- I’ve never had a team of players that was more respectful, hardworking and cared for each other more than this team. I’m really proud of them and I love them.
[Coach Panaggio then goes on to thank the Shanghai press reporters]
In regards to the game tonight; obviously we are all disappointed. We knew it would be a hard-fought game, and we had control of the game, I think we were up by eleven points midway through the third quarter and the [Shanxi] coach went to a zone, which he has done in the past during this series. He also went with a small, quick group and it disrupted our momentum and we were never quite able to recapture that momentum so I tip my hat to the coach of Shanxi and to their great players.
[Coach Panaggio then goes on to briefly acknowledge the impact of Chales Gaines in the game after being asked about it by a journalist]
Journalist’s Question: Can Coach give a conclusion or summery of this season?
DP: I thought it was a really good season. Obviously we all know know we got off to a really slow start but these guys hung together, kept working and never stopped believing in themselves, and eventually we turned it around. I think we made great improvement and I feel like we’re a whole lot further ahead than when we started in in October.
Journalist’s Question: This is your first season coaching in China. Looking back this season, was it easier than you thought or more difficult, and will you stay here for the next couple of seasons?
DP: I’ll answer the second part of that question first; absolutely. I’m having a blast. I never knew these guys would be so fun to work with and I’m getting kinda hooked on Shanghai- I’m enjoying it. I didn’t know what to expect [with regard to coaching in China]. Obviously after the first eight or nine games, it was more difficult but after we won ten out of eleven after that, it was easier. All in all, it was very satisfying.
Journalist’s Question: What did you say to your players [after the game]- we heard a round of applause coming from the locker room, and can you comment of Liu Wei as he has been playing very well recently
DP:Lets start with Liu Wei. He had a great playoff. I am really, really happy for all he accomplished. He led this team [with] a new coach. I told him some day I think he’s going to have my job. For a guy whose achieved all that he’s achieved, he’s a pleasure to work with. He practices hard, he plays hard and he always plays to win so I’m really proud and happy for him. [In the locker room] I told the players what I told you; I’m just so proud of them. I love them- they’ve done so much more than I ever could have imagined and that they were a pleasure to be around.
[I also said] it’s too early to be talking about next season so [I’ll] just let them digest this season but I also told them that I’ve been doing this a long time and tomorrow’s going to hurt when you open your eyes because for the last five or six months, you’ve been trying to achieve something every day… and sometimes at the end of the year, there’s a bit of an empty feeling for a couple of days.