In a matchday that stretched over 3 days due to Euroleague adopting Friday as game day, the Greek A1 showed encouraging signg of competition and quality. Little surprises though, as both Olympiacos and Panathinaikos cruised ast their domestic opponents.
The opening games on Saturday evening were Kavalaka-Ilysiakos and Peristeri-Panelefsiniakos. Both games were thrilles and the winners escaped with a narrow two points win. In Kavala the traditional off-court stirrups started early, as the home team complained to the refs that the away coach, former Greek international Dimitris Papanikolaou, didn't hold a valid coaching license and hence he had to sit on the stands. And he did, but his players showed that extra motivation and earned a great win (66-68) which they will look to leverage next week facing Kolossos at home.
In Peristeri the local team made a tremendous last minutes run to secure their 77-75 win over the division newcomers Panelefsiniakos who put up an excellent fight and have complaints regarding the refereeing of the game. The home team proved they are no joke when playing in their arena while the away team showed they have things to do and prove in the top flight of Greek basketball.
Next day, the first game of the evening was another classic between the rivalry of two islands, as Rhodes based Kolossos faced AGOR from Crete. Same scenario, as the home team won the game 82-80 and will try to preserve their status as one of the Top4 teams of the league, which at this point serves more as a prestige thing than anything else, since they were denied entrance to Eurocup due to their small arena.
In Drama, Panionios took yet another, yes you guessed it right, two-points win (62-64) in a tensed and tight game, mainly due to the invididual talent of their young star, Nikos Pappas. The home team has a lot of searching and work to do if they want to be competitive and remain in A1.
Later in the evening Olympiacos got an easy win (89-64) over PAOK. Both teams showed signs of unreadiness, something normal at this stage. PAOK resisted for a couple of quarters, but Olympiacos quality just took over at some point. Acie Law finished the game with 17 points, putting his injury behind him and getting into full form.
On Monday evening, Aris held Panathinaikos at just 27 points during the first half, but the Greens scored more than that in the third quarter and the rest of the game was a typical procedure (56-71). The home team will struggle to remain in A1 as they can't sign American players due to FIBA sanctions while Panathinaikos is clearly lacking chemistry due to all the changes that occured in the summer.
In the last game of the week Ikaros held their ground against Apollon Patras (67-65) who returned to A1 after a long time. Both teams showed that they are capable of good things and udner the circumstances can do some damage to opponents if they are taken lightly.
All in all it was a very good Week 1 and although this is probably due to the neverending shrinking budgets all teams (apart from the big two of course) are more or less at the same level and no one will have an easy night. The sad thing is that the Greek state TV (which is paid monthly by the fans of all teams and not just that of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos) is so introvert and closeminded that they can't look beyond their noses to save their lives. While all five games ended with a 2-points win margin, they chose to air the only two games which were boring (or got boring quickly) just because Olympiacos and Panathinaikos played in them.
Not only this deprives the rest of the teams with some exposure it also costs them in money as they won't get percentage of the ads revenue every team gets when their games are aired live.
As an end note, we should remind you that the best and most classic basketball matchup in Europe will take place next Monday as Panathinaikos will be hosting Olympiacos at OAKA for the first serious battle of the season.