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Rick Pitino Says Atmosphere During Panathinaikos Debut 'Reminded Me of Kentucky'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 28, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals  reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Rick Pitino, who is now leading Greek club Panathinaikos B.C., said the atmosphere for his team's 96-84 Euroleague win over CSKA Moscow "reminded (him) of Kentucky." 

"Just like that, and that's the highest compliment I give any crowd," Pitino said per an ESPN.com report. "Because I've always felt that in Kentucky basketball is a religion, and the fans tonight motivated us to play that type of defense."

Pitino knows a thing or two about raucous atmospheres, as he's coached since 1974 with stops at Louisville, Kentucky, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics along the way.

Video of the atmosphere certainly backs Pitino's point. The stands were packed as the two teams were warming up:

Panathinaikos BC @paobcgr

⏳5' to tip-off #paobc - @cskabasket #GameOn #EuroLeague #paocsk https://t.co/LeXrt9xPVQ

The home crowd also went wild after a dunk from Panathinaikos big man James Gist:

EuroLeague @EuroLeague

.@paobcgr are FLYING and so is James Gist! 🔥 #7DAYSMagicMoment https://t.co/fZ3OTRKrSw

They even get excited about layups:

EuroLeague @EuroLeague

The DIME from @Nick_Calathes15! #7DAYSMagicMoment https://t.co/lzF0EROA3l

Their devotion is impressive considering the rough Euroleague year Panathinaikos is having. Despite the win, the Athens-based club is just 7-8 and sitting 11th out of 16 teams in the table.

Still, Pitino has had just one game with his new team, and the two-time NCAA champion's coaching resume is one of the best in the sport today. He could be giving his team's fans plenty to cheer about in the ensuing months.

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