Three days ago, Olympiacos eventually decided to forfeit the Greek League play-off game against Panathinaikos, in accordance with its owners’ declaration that the team would not play any match vs the Greens were it not officiated by non-Greek referees. In fact, this Thursday (May 23), the Sports Arbitrator of the League made Olympiacos’s relegation to the second division official, issuing the respective decision. The Reds have already appealed to the national Court of Arbitration for Sport, regarding the validation of the final standings of the regular season and also questioning the validity of the referees’ drawing procedure.
Last Monday afternoon (May 20), the players of Panathinaikos were greeted with chants, banners and flares by a crowd of more or less 400 persons at the OAKA indoor hall. It was another unique site to behold for many of them, including Sean Kilpatrick. The former NBAer had repeatedly expressed his eagerness to get the games in the Greek League started, but to no avail. Some of his tweets illustrate the situation:
Kilpatrick also openly accused Olympiacos’s side of stalling and the League of succumbing to their methods.
At the end of the day, the 29-year-old guard had to settle for an open practice, which seems to have done the job just as well for him.
A few minutes after the scrimmage, TalkBasket.net spoke with Sean Kilpatrick about the situation in Greece, the players’ stance and Panathinaikos’s decision to also forfeit a game, the one against Kymi on the last gameday of the regular season.
Q: It’s a sad day for Greek basketball …
A: (interrupts) Is it? I don’t think so. We got practice today. It was pretty nice. It felt good to really get up and down the court in front of our fans and see them chanting. It was something we wanted to see. We haven’t seen them in a couple of weeks.
Q: You’ve been very vocal via Twitter about the situation in Greece over the last days. How do you experience it?
A: It’s something new for all of us. It’s probably the first time this has ever happened in the history of Greek basketball. It’s unfortunate for everyone that we had to continue to keep waiting for the play-offs to start. I just hope that now, in the second round of the play-offs, all the games can be sped up. I think the games should be every other day from now on. It’s no secret that everyone wants to get back and relax with their families. Especially for the Americans, it’s kind of crazy because we’re going on into our summer and everyone is waiting to play these games.
We know that some of our Greek guys also have their national teams. You have guys, like Nick Calathes, who have been here since August. They pretty much want to go home. We know that they also want to spend time with their family, but the most important thing right now for us is to get on the court and start playing games.
Q: Have you spoken to any player of Olympiacos about the situation?
A: I don’t have no one’s number over there. That’s a good thing that coach and everyone does: they keep that stuff away from us. They’re pretty in tune with what goes on with Manos (Papadopoulos, the president and general manager of the club) going over there (the League’s office) to see what’s going on. But for the most part, we’ve been focusing on us. That’s the only thing we can possibly do right now.
Q: How difficult is for you players not to play?
A: Everyone prefers to play. I think that’s something everyone wants to do, but at the end of the day it all goes down to what the League is going to do. We can’t sit down and say: “Alright, we want to do this”, but meanwhile the League is telling us something different. Eventually, they can’t continue to keep going on.
Q: Holargos BC coach Aris Lykogiannis recently revealed that his player Danny Agbelese called the Greek League a circus.
A: I’ve heard the same thing because this is the first time that this has happened in the Greek League.
Q: How did you receive the news of Panathinaikos forfeiting the game against Kymi on the last matchday of the regular season?
A: Everyone was coming in to play but then they told us that we wasn’t. I felt like everyone else did. Everyone was putting their jersey on and then they said “don’t go out”.
Q: Were you told the reasons?
A: No, they just said “don’t go out”. Someone actually did ask but they were just saying that they don’t know. They didn’t mention anything about Olympiacos. No one knew exactly what was going on.
Q: How did you feel about not playing?
A: It put us in a little loop because we were at first place, but our president has his reasons for doing everything and we support him 100%.