TalkBasket.net will be previewing every team in this season’s Euroleague as the road to the Final Four in London begins. We start with a strong Group A line-up and will preview each team from each group in a coming weeks so that you are ready for game one on October 11. We start with Greek giants: Panathinaikos.
Introduction: It’s going to be a season of rebuilding in Athens, legendary coach Zeljko Obradovic has departed after leading the Greens to five Euroleague crowns, the most recent being in 2011 in Barcelona. Mike Batiste, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Aleks Maric, Romain Sato, Nick Calathes and Kostas Kaimakoglou are amongst the players that have moved on since the 2012 Final Four in Istanbul where they lost to CSKA Moscow at the semi-final stage and it has left many people wondering; can the glory days continue?
Despite the season of rebuilding, Panathinaikos has recruited a strong roster for this term, former Olympiacos big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis being the biggest off-season signing. Croatian Roko Ukic has also jumped ship to Athens and Dimitris Diamantidis has stayed on for another season as well.
Coach: 48-year-old Argiris Pedoulakis comes to the fold having scooped the Greek League coach of the year award in 2001 and 2003 with Peristeri, where he spent 12 years of his career as a player. He spent six years with Panathinaikos and throughout his playing and coaching lifespan, he has never left his native Greece.
No doubt, Pedoulakis has big shoes to fill, replacing Obradovic but he is no doubt relishing the chance coaching in his first Euroleague season.
Key Player: With Batiste gone, Dimitris Diamantidis’ legendary pick-and-roll play is no more, but Diamantidis will no doubt lead this new-look side into the Euroleague season. A great shooter and overall offensive threat that is best known for his suffocating defence and clutch performances, there’s no doubt that Diamantidis will cause the opposition many problems.
Breakout player: An odd choice maybe, but with the experienced squad Panathinaikos have, it’s hard to choose a breakout player, so after a sub-par Euroleague season last year, Kostas Tsartsaris will look to stand out and perform this season. He averaged 14 minutes a game and averaged 4.1 points last year and he will want to improve those numbers.
Biggest Euroleague moment: Out of their six Euroleague crowns, the 2007 victory in their home arena in Athens will have to be the sweetest. Winning the Euroleague in their own backyard is surely the greatest victory they will have.