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Despite Record, Kokoskov Pleased With Pachulia Leadership

08 September 2015
EUROBASKET 2015
7. Zaza Pachulia (Georgia)
Pachulia's team-mates insist you should look past the big man's numbers and focus on his other contributions

By David Hein

Leaders are judged in various ways. And while Zaza Pachulia has not been producing the greatest of numbers at EuroBasket 2015 and Georgia started Group C with two losses, their head coach Igor Kokoskov is pleased with how his veteran center is leading the team.

"As a captain and leader, you don't have to do it all with stats," Kokoskov said after Georgia's 79-68 loss to Slovenia - the country's second defeat in two games in Zagreb.

"Some times you do other things. You have to lead and get in somebody's face. As a captain, that's the job - doing whatever the team needs. To me the captain has to do more than just score."

Pachulia had a strong first game statistically with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists to go with four turnovers. But Georgia slipped up as a team in losing an important game against Netherlands 73-72.

The Georgians watched Slovenia shoot the lights out from long range in the second game and Pachulia was dealing with foul trouble throughout. The Dallas Mavericks center picked up just three points on 1-of-6 shooting with two rebounds, two assists and two steals before fouling out in 19 minutes with two turnovers as well.

"I'm pleased with the way he was competing," Kokoskov said of Pachulia's showing after the Slovenia loss.

"As a veteran and leader, that's his job."

0. Jacob Pullen (Georgia)
"With guys like Zaza, Viktor (Sanikidze) and Tornike (Shengelia), a lot of them have done this before and have a lot of experience in basketball, period" - Jacob Pullen

In general, Kokoskov believes his team played much better against Slovenia than against the Dutch.

"I don't think we played bad. I think we competed tonight. The Slovenians played better," he said.

"One thing makes me happy. The focus was better. We competed from the jump ball. We were talking about how to respond after yesterday's game (loss to Netherlands). I like the way we responded and fought and represented the Georgia jersey."

The clear leader for Georgia is Pachulia - and his team-mates know that.

When asked what kind of expectations the players had on the big man, Jacob Pullen said consistency.

"For him to control the paint and make teams double him and get us open shots. A lot of teams will focus in on him and limit his touches," Pullen said.

"For us, that's what we want. We want people to double him and get us wide open shots. For us, it's about feeding the big guy and keeping him happy and letting him control the paint." 

Despite two losses, nothing is over as far as Georgia's chances of advancing past the first group stage for the second time in their third showing on Europe's main stage go. Just a victory over The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia may be enough for Georgia to make the move later in the week to Lille, France for the knockout stage.

"With guys like Zaza, Viktor (Sanikidze) and Tornike (Shengelia), a lot of them have done this before and have a lot of experience in basketball, period. So, that should be a strong point for us. We just want to stay in the top four. It's about surviving," added Pullen.

Surviving with Pachulia being the leader Georgia need.

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