Itoudis and Calathes – back to OAKA
The second half of the EuroLeague will start today, so Round 18 will bring us the first rematches of the season. In Athens, two teams that are really struggling currently will meet at the OAKA, as Panathinaikos welcomes Fenerbahce.
Both teams are currently on a five-game losing streak and their playoff chances are in jeopardy. Panathinaikos had a run of 5 wins out of 6 games between Round 7 and Round 12, but then suddenly everything collapsed. The defeat that hurt the most was the one against eternal rivals Olympiakos, which made owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos call a meeting with coach Dejan Radonjic. Even if many people expected that coach Radonjic will be replaced, his position was confirmed in the meeting and he received more power in decision-making and an ‘’unlimited budget’’ for signing new players. So far no changes were made in the roster and the transfer window will close on the 9th of February.
Player absences also made life much harder for PAO lately and they might have multiple missing players tonight as well. Their leading scorer Dwayne Bacon will be back in the lineup, but Paris Lee and Lefteris Bochoridis might miss the game against Fener.
Fenerbahce is also struggling and after they started the season with an incredible 9-1 record they might even miss the playoffs. Probably their worst game so far was the one against Zalgiris last week and something needs to change for the Turkish team. Fener was reportedly interested in bringing Tyler Dorsey back to Europe, but the American-Greek guard decided to play in the G League instead.
For some Fener players, the OAKA is a special place as they have some ties with PAO. Coach Dimitris Itoudis was the assistant of Zeljko Obradovic in the most successful period in the history of the basketball section of Panathinaikos. Nick Calathes was also very successful wearing the green jersey of PAO, winning the EuroLeague and establishing himself as a top point guard in Athens. Kostas Antetokounmpo did not play for PAO but his brother Thanasis did, so he also has some ties to the club. On the other side, Derrick Williams played for Fenerbahce for one season.
Photo credit: EuroLeague