PAO – Barca will always be an attractive encounter!

Panathinaikos Athens will host FC Barcelona in the famous OAKA on Thursday evening in a game that counts for Round 30 of the current EuroLeague season.

The two teams have very different goals for the rest of this season and the quality difference between the two rosters is also huge.

Panathinaikos is eliminated from playoff contention in the EuroLeague and will mostly focus on winning the Greek league. It was another turbulent season for the Greens who changed multiple coaches and GMs in the past couple of years and looked like a team that doesn’t have a clear direction. The roster was also constantly changed and this lack of stability is the main reason PAO didn’t succeed. Still, the situation is not that bad as there is a promise of a good budget for the next season and the Greek team just needs to find the right coach and let him create the roster he wishes.

Unlike PAO, for Barcelona planning for the next season is far away, as the Catalans are focused on winning the EuroLeague this May and there is some pressure to do it, as the Blaugrana were considered favourites in the past couple of seasons too but suffered heartbreaking defeats in the Final Fours.

Despite the different objectives, Barca should not underestimate Panathinaikos in tomorrow’s game. The Greeks are on a two-game winning streak in the EuroLeague, beating Asvel Lyon and Crvena Zvezda and they also played a good game on Sunday in the Greek league against eternal rivals Olympiacos, losing by only 2 points. Barca cannot afford to lose in Athens as they still have some complicated away games left to play in the regular season in Belgrade and Milan and with a few losses they could even lose the home-court advantage for the playoffs.

The visit to OAKA is always a special one for Barca coach Sarunas Jasikevicius. The Lithuanian was part of Panathinaikos for 4 seasons during his legendary playing career and won numerous trophies with the Greens, including the EuroLeague in 2009 and three Greek league titles.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: EuroLeague