There is a say that a winning team shouldn’t be changed, but at Zamalek things are looking the opposite way although the goals remain exactly the same, the team says.
Augusti Julbe Bolsch, the man who coached Zamalek to the title of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) in May in Kigali, signed for local rivals Al Ahly and the team’s leading scorer and BAL MVP Walter Hodge is currently playing for Capitanes Arecibo in Puerto Rico’s Baloncesto Superior Nacional.
In response, Zamalek offered Greek Evangelos Angelou a one-year deal to become its new head coach, and the Cairo-based tasked the 52-year-old coach to make adjustments to maintain the team’s success and winning mentality.
Under Bolsch, Zamalek claimed the Egypt’s Super League 2021 title right after winning the BAL 2021.
Things look challenging for Angelou who worked (as head and assistant coach) for some of Europe’s famous clubs such as Olympiacos, Dynamo Moscow, AEK Athens, Efes (Turkey) and Aris Basketball Club.
The former Olympiakos point guard insists he is embracing his new experience.
“Everybody lives under pressure at some point in their lives. I look at it as a normal challenge more than anything else,” Angelou stressed talking to The BAL website.
The Egyptian Super League won’t start until October or November, but Angelou is already in Cairo working on the rebuilding of the team that finished 6-0 in the BAL.
Some of Zamalek players represented Egypt at AfroBasket 2021, and won’t report to the club for a few days or weeks, and Angelou says he will continue working with those available.
“It’s my first time in African basketball. I am trying to learn and adjust to the players and culture,” Angelou pointed out, adding: “At the moment, I haven’t met all players because some of them were representing Egypt at AfroBasket (2021).
“From what I saw last season we are going to start a new era at Zamalek. We are going to build a new team. We are going to have seven young players and seven experienced players.”
When asked to talk about his game style and philosophy, Angelou said that “Basketball has a universal language. To start with, we are going to work on the team’s chemistry and try to help the players follow two important principles: Respect and discipline. Don’t do what you don’t like others to do to you.”
Whether Zamalek will be able to retain their two major titles (BAL and Egypt Super League) only time will tell, but Angelou has a message to his players.
“I try to explain to my players that they can’t see a trophy as a challenge. Being a champion cannot happen every day. We need to build a program. Through the program routine, we hear the players, share ideas in order to find success. We need to give young players opportunities to develop and grow as players. We don’t want to pressure them for results. we want them to develop their passion for the game.”
Import-players usually play a significant part in a team’s campaign. Zamalek is in the market scouting potential fits to the team.
“We are working to try and find an import player that fits in our program. We are going to be opened to African players also and to local ones. The idea is to bring those four players to help and improve our young players.
“The import-player must have priorities for us. No1: To be ready to adjust to the country’s culture and the league. No.2: He must play to help the team win. He can’t play for himself. If he scores 60 points and we lose the game by 10 or 20, we don’t want that. But if he can score one point and we lose by one, we want him. We want a team player. We must have some stoppers, rebounders. In modern basketball, you need three-point shooters. We are going to implement a good selection of shots. We have to improve our passing ability transition and defense,” Angelou said of his team’s priorities.