Guide to SKOPJE


Oktay Mahmuti, a modest but charismatic leader of Galatasaray basketball club, has been voted ULEB Eurocup Coach of the Year. Oktay, who was born in Skopje, is pleased that fans compare him to Mourinho. “My hair is going grey so it must be the reason they say I’m like the most popular football strategist Mourinho.”- he explains.   

There is no set way that leads to success, because it is so complex. Oktay knows this very well, because he has put a lot of effort and hard work to become one of the most famous basketball coaches in Turkey and the region, despite the harsh competition. This year he has been voted Coach of the Year in the ULEB Eurocup. “I am really happy. It is nice to receive recognition for what I have been working hard all these years.” – says he.


Whatever he does, he only has one goal – the club he coaches to get to the top, both in national championships and European cups. This is why he sometimes loses his temper. “When we lose I’m angry with the players. I wouldn’t be angry if we practiced what we preached before the game and then there would be no problems. My reactions are never about our defeat. Normally, losing is part of the sport.  What I expect is my players on the court to do their best, to give a 100%. If they do that there will be no place for being angry.” – says Mahmutti.

According to him, being an athlete of the highest rank is one of the hardest jobs in the world. “It is art. There is no difference. It takes skill and luck. One should be in the right place at the right time. It also takes putting a lot of effort in it. I feel sorry for today’s young people who neglect education. This job is the same as building a pyramid. There are thousands of people starting from the bottom but in the end there is only one at the top.”


Oktay Mahmuti was born in Skopje and football was his first love. He started playing basketball much later in high school. “In Yugoslavia there were  many quality teams and huge competition. I realized that I had very little chance of becoming a top ranking basketball player so I decided to become a coach instead.” – says Mahmuti. His first job experience was with the team of Rabotnicki in Skopje. His first job abroad was with Turkish Eczacibasi as coach of the youth team. It was followed by the ever attractive Efes, Italian Benetton, and now Galatasaray which is one of the most eminent Turkish basketball clubs. “I am happy to be working with Galatasaray. Basketball is a pleasant and delightful sport but now we are facing problems with the spectators. Even when we have famous clubs visiting us there are so few spectators in our sports hall, which is so disappointing. Turkish basketball has many stars. All we have to do is attract the crowds to the arenas.” – explains Mahmuti.


Oktay’s role model is renown Yugoslav coach Bozidar Malkovic. Regarding Petar Naumovski he says that in Efes Pilsen he grew from a good player into a true basketball star. “At that time Efes coach Ayden Ors was looking for a shooting guard and I recommended Naumovski. He accepted the offer, came here, showed excellent performance, and with each day he got better and better.” – says Mahmuti. According to Mahmuti, Dirk Nowitski is currently the best European basketball player and he can change the destiny of the whole team.

“I try to dress elegantly. I take care of my clothes and I feel fine with that. Regarding the comparison with Mourinho I believe it is due to my greying hair.” – explains he and adds: “My dreams have come true, my wish to coach big teams has been fulfilled and now my only concern is to maintain this level and to keep my team at the top.”

Husamedin Gina