Continuing our coverage of International Basketball, today we are excited to bring you a guest post by Dionysios Nikiforos about Greek basketball. Basketball is huge in Greece and the quality of play is very high, particularly amongst the upper echelon teams who participate in the EuroLeague and EuroCup. Special Thanks to Dio for bringing us this post. -Chris Denker
It’s gonna be an interesting summer for Greek superpowers Olympiakos and reigning Euroleague/Greek league champion Panathinaikos. Both teams already have a solid nucleus but they will be looking to get better.
July 6th, keep that date in your mind; a major reform that will allow every team in the Greek league to sign 3 Americans and 3 Bosman type players (currently teams are only allowed to sign 2 Americans and 4 Bosmans) is under consideration and teams won’t be active until this issue is resolved. The proposal was thrown in by Olympiakos as in recent years they have been very successful landing big time American players (e.g. Josh Childress) while Panathinaikos traditionally has counted on established European players (mainly because of coach Zelimir Obradovic); funny how those teams are going against each other at every level!
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Olympiakos has managed to maintain 6-10 big Ioannis Bourousis with a (no surprise there) very lucrative offer (close to $2 million/year) keeping him away from joining the NBA as San Antonio was said to be after him. Interestingly though Giorgos Printezis has refused a similar offer and is probably on his way to joining the Raptors, we previously discussed about his game here at NetScouts with Raptors Republic. With the Atlanta Hawks picking up Jamal Crawford, Josh Childress has become expendable and with a very “tight” NBA market, chances he’ll be opting out are slim. Long gone are Jannero Pargo and possibly Lynn Greer as Olympiacos is reportedly going after a more efficient guard; options include Siena’s Terrell McIntyre, CSKA’s J.R. Holden, Igor Rakocevic, Tau’s Pablo Prigioni with long shots being Raptor’s restricted FA Anthony Parker and yes Ricky Rubio (unless David Kahn can convince Ricky that he and Johnny Flynn can coexist, Rubio wants out so he’ll stay in Europe for a couple more years as long as he’s not traded during the summer).
Panathinaikos isn’t looking to make any major moves and has already added 2 young, solid pieces, former Florida Gator Nick Calathes (drafted in the 2nd round by Minnesota then traded to Mavs) and versatile guard/forward Milenko Topic (who went undrafted this past week). The team hasn’t agreed yet with former Pacer/Warrior Sarunas Jasikevicius and will be looking to add more depth at the wings. Former ASU star Mike Batiste has really been the defensive cornerstone in the middle while Defensive Player of the year Dimitris Diamantidis is looking to be back in full speed after a sports hernia surgery. How deep is that team?? They have former Rocket Vassilis Spanoulis and sharpshooter Drew Nicholas (Maryland) coming off the bench!
What about the rest of the league? The 3rd place leading to Euroleague participation is up for grabs and let me just throw is some familiar names that made noise last season in the Greek league: former Sixer reserve Steven Smith, NBA journeyman William Avery, Keydren Clark, number six on the list of all-time NCAA scoring leaders and Aussie sharpshooter Brad Newly.
About the author: Dionysios Nikiforos is a scout for NetScouts Basketball LLC, “The International Basketball Connection”™ and has extensive experience and knowledge of the Greek League.