After winning the domestic title for the first time since 2014, Panathinaikos Superfoods now have their sights set on winning their seventh Euroleague title.
With many new players having already joined the team, the question now is: How easy is for coach Xavi Pascual to find the necessary balance between the newcomers and the rest of the roster in order to lead the Greek giants to the top of Europe?
During the off-season, the Greek club saw key players, like Giannis Bourousis and Mike James, leave the team, while Chris Singleton’s future still is uncertain, with Khimki doing their best to sign him.
Moreover, the legendary power forward, and one of the “Greens’” leaders and captains, Antonis Fotsis, parted ways with the club, putting an end to his long-time presence in the six-time Euroleague champions.
On the other hand, the Greeks quickly found the ideal replacements and, consequently, Lukas Lekavicius, Marcus Denmon, Zach Auguste, Ian Vougioukas, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Konstantinos Mitoglou joined Panathinaikos.
With almost half the roster consisting of new players, it’s the newcomers’ performance that will determine whether the squad will be able to fight for the first European title since 2011.
Lekavicius is expected to act as Nick Calathes’ back-up in the back-court line, offering instant scoring and a lot of assists, while Denmon is considered James’ replacement and should work very hard to cover the gap that was created by the American guard’s departure.
Concurrently, the “Greens” acquired Mitoglou, Auguste and Vougioukas to strengthen their front-line, especially inside the paint, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo will have a decisive role in the squad’s defensive tactics, being one of the roster’s best on and off-ball defenders.
Although the club has made its roster deeper and has added a lot of talent, thanks to the newly-acquired players, the lack of experience can prevent them from making the difference in the team.
More specifically, apart from Lekavicius and Vougioukas, none of the newcomers has significant Euroleague experience and it’s doubtful whether they will be able to adapt to the team’s expectations, as this will be the first time they will compete at the top level.
So, if they make decent performances during their Euroleague games, then Panathinaikos will have the opportunity to go all the way to the end, with coach Pascual having a roster full of players that can be very effective on both ends of the floor.
Otherwise, though, things will be more difficult, as the Catalan coach will need to deal with chemistry issues, since many of the roster’s players will not be at their very best, both physically and mentally.
However, Pascual can depend on James Gist, Singleton, Calathes and K.C Rivers to make the difference in the first part of the season, which will give the newcomers more time to adapt to Euroleague’s format.
Overall, Panathinaikos has acquired versatile players that can offer decent solutions on more than one positions on the floor.
Although none of them is considered a top-class player that can act as the leader on and off the court, it’s their performance that will determine whether the club will be successful this season, as almost all of them will come off the bench during the matches.
That said, Panathinaikos seems to be one of the off-season winners so far, yet it’s too early for anybody to make any predictions for the club, which is expected to start enhancing its performance in December.