The perfect record of Peristeri in the Greek League came to an end, as the team from the Western suburbs of Athens experienced its first defeat to Panathinaikos OPAP (80-75). The Green’s ex-coach Argyris Pedoulakis returned to OAKA as an opponent for the first time since his dismissal two years ago.
Despite trailing by 19 points, the guests managed to pick up the difference in the fourth period and get back into the game, proving once more that their 7-0 run was not a coincidence. Panagiotis Vasilopoulos, the most experienced player on a roster that also features Ryan Harrow, the league’s MVP so far, discussed with TalkBasket.net about the team’s potential. Peristeri is up against Panionios for the 9th matchday of the Greek League, with the view to expanding their record.
Q: Could the game have turned out differently for Peristeri?
A: For sure. We played against a team with great experience, who has a lot of talent and has played many games this year. It was an entirely different level. We were solid for forty minutes, which was our main goal.
Q: Do you believe you had a real chance to win?
A: Panathinaikos had some absences and were coming off a defeat in the Euroleague. Therefore, we cannot talk about a missed opportunity. They were very concentrated after the defeat to Fener and they wanted the win. It was a weird game for us, but at least we tried.
Q: Do you consider your course in the championship as a surprise?
A: No, because the element of surprise has now been lost. We have made seven wins. We beat AEK and Prometheas, whom we met under some strange circumstances: they didn’t know us that well and we played excellent. Now, all teams are waiting and preparing for us. It is completely different to play a game a week instead of two because the preparation is different. It is normal for Panathinaikos to be a bit more relaxed in the Greek League.
Q: Don’t you think that Panathinaikos can now have more pressure due to the ongoing poor performances?
A: No, I do not believe that. The experience of those guys helps them overcome any kind of pressure.
Q: Now that Peristeri is near the top of the standings, is the approach to the games any different?
A: Of course it is. If you win, everyone wants to beat you. You create new needs, by setting the bar high, and if you get to the top, it’s very hard to stay there because you need to work more. We still have a long way to go and cannot talk about the future. We can only deal with each game that comes our way, without thinking any further. Maybe, knock wood, we will have some injuries and need to change all our plan. Clark was injured and Callahan is still trying to adapt to the information he receives and to assimilate new things about a league he’s not yet familiar with. It’s not easy.
Q: Based on the competition, do you think that Peristeri can remain in the top positions?
A: It’s up to us. It depends on how much we will work, how humble we will stay and how we will approach each game. We shouldn’t get caught up in the seven wins and say: “OK, we’ve done our job and now it’s over.” We have to put into ourselves the mentality of a champion and a winner. We have tried very hard to achieve those victories because we are neither Olympiacos nor Panathinaikos to enjoy the luxury of winning easily.
Q: What made you sign with Peristeri for two years? Is it related to the three-year plan drawn up by the management of the team, according to which the objectives will be adjusted after each season?
A: I saw the plan, talked to Argyris Pedoulakis and what I heard was enough. The truth is that for this year, our goal is to stay in the league, regardless of how many victories we already have. We should keep our feet on the ground. Firstly, the main issue is to secure our presence in the Greek League and then combine it with nice basketball.