Mateusz Ponitka reveals what he likes the most about Radonjic, compares him with Pascual

2022-10-17 11:22

In the Uručenje podcast, Mateusz Ponitka shared Poland's national team success, his new career stage in Panathinaikos, and the differences between Dejan Radonjic and Xavi Pascual.

Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

Mateusz Ponitka reflected on everything that happened in the EuroBasket and how important the success of the Polish basketball national team was for the whole country.

Panathinaikos newcomer spoke in the Uručenje podcast about the biggest impact on his career and how he parted ways with Reggio Emilia, with whom he signed a three-month contract before EuroBasket.

"During the EuroBasket, we had a good run and made history, Ponitka revealed. "We knew that everybody would have some options because it simply works like that. I also had a couple of options, but Panathinaikos were straightforward and wanted me to be part of this team."

"I also talked to my agent and Reggio Emilia because I had a contract with them. There was an agreement, so we needed to respect it and the words we gave. We needed to find a solution and the best possible way to make everybody happy.

Mateusz Ponitka

Mateusz  Ponitka
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Position: SF
Age: 29
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Birth place: Ostrow, Poland

We found it, and Panathinaikos were really driven to bring me in. It just happened. I was really positive and wanted a place where I could play and enjoy basketball again. I think Panathinaikos is a perfect place for me," added Ponitka.

The 29-year-old was also asked about his new head coach Dejan Radonjic. Ponitka shared some warm words about the Serbian coach and named his favorite feature.

"First of all, he's a really straightforward and very honest man," Ponitka said. "I very like honesty. I believe it's a basic [thing] for a relationship if you want to be in something. We understand that we are one of the youngest teams in the competition."

Ponitka also compared Radonjic with his former head coach Xavi Pascual. Panathinaikos newcomer admitted that the main difference between the two coaches is the size of the playbooks.

"Every coach has his own philosophy. For coach Radonjic, defense is the most important thing. You have to be active in defense, play hard, stand and create contact. In offense, we have fewer sets for now.

Xavi had much more sets and options in offense. Of course, defensive rules were also important for him. All the big coaches create their structure and system in defense. In offense, it's different readings. There are a couple of similarities and, of course, some differences. Both of them are great coaches. There are no coincidences in EuroLeague. You have to be at a certain level to be a EuroLeague coach," Ponitka shared his view.

Asked about his role with Panathinaikos, Ponitka mentioned that one of them is bringing the veteran leadership.

"We understand that we have talented players, but some of them are inexperienced. We try to find the balance between experienced and inexperienced guys. I talked with the coach about my role.

Right now, it's a little bit different because we have injuries. All of us have to adjust, but I'm really positive about the future," stated the Polish international.

The Polish also referred to the great success he achieved with the national team at the EuroBasket this summer, pointing out that the Poles were the real Cinderella story at the tournament.

He revealed what the President of the Polish Basketball Federation, Radoslaw Piesiewicz, told them before going to EuroBasket.

"Before the EuroBasket, we had a meeting with the federation president," Ponitka began. "He said, 'Listen, let's talk a little bit about bonuses,' and we said, 'Okay, bonuses, but we need to be realistic.'

And he said, 'In my opinion, you can go out of the group from the second place. Serbia is very good, they have amazing players, I can understand that, but the other teams from the group... We are capable of beating them, and then we will see.'

Then he said the bonus for the Round of 16, then for the quarterfinal, then for the semifinal, and we were looking at each other and were like... Okay, but let's be honest, what can we do?

Let's start with the wins and how many wins we can have. Our minimum goal was to achieve two wins in the competition because it meant you can advance to the next stage. It came out later that those two wins might not be enough.

Fortunately, we won really difficult games, especially with the Czech Republic, with the full gym in Prague. When we won that game, we could see that something special was coming.

It's very important how you begin this kind of tournament, especially when you are the underdog all the time. We were not the favorites, and then with the tournament, you go with the flow," Ponitka finished his detailed story.

Poland's national team captain revealed that belief inside the team grew after the group stage.

"After the group stage, we were thinking it is a big chance for us because we saw all the teams around, and with some of them, we saw we could be competitive. We played against Ukraine, and Ukraine was also a surprise since they came out in second place from their group.

So, we were like, okay, let's do it, we have one chance. A few years ago, I think it was EuroBasket in France. We were playing very well, and we had a bad draw. Straight after the group, we played against Spain [in the first round], and later they won the EuroBasket. Now, karma [returned the favor], and it helped us with the better draw."

What did the president say to them after the Eurobasket?

"Many nice words. He was so proud of us".

And, probably more important... Did they get the bonuses?

"Yes, we got a really good bonus, and we were really happy about it. When the president says he will bring the bonus, the bonus will be there. So, everybody was happy, we got respect.

It's nice of our federation that they took care of us, not only after the success at EuroBasket but also during the whole season. During the preparation, the federation took care of us, we had good conditions to grow as a team and develop players," Ponitka said.

"It was a pleasure to be [part of that]. The president is happy and proud of us, and I hope to see him soon. He already said he will come to Athens for the PAO game, we will see each other, and we will talk," concluded Ponitka.

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