|Avellino is ready to rewrite its own history on Thursday at 20: by welcoming Olympiacos in the club's first-ever Euroleague game. Avellino got ready to take the Euroleague challenge and reloaded its roster for what should be the biggest season in club history. It has the chance to show it right away, as Olympiacos play a major role in the off-season market, landing marquee free agents in all positions. Former Euroleague and Final Four MVP Theo Papaloukas is the new floor general coming off the Reds' bench. Papaloukas is back to Olympiacos after six seasons with CSKA, in which he won two Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008. He will share the point guard duties with combo guard Lynn Greer and up-and-coming playmaker Milos Teodosic. Greer will test his scoring skills against veteran guard Travis Best. Avellino is also deep at point guard with Mike Nardi and Antonio Porta ready to step on court when required. Perhaps the biggest signing this season may arguably be Josh Childress, who will make his Euroleague debut against Avellino. He provides athleticism, talent and versatility at both wing spots. Olympiacos also inked defensive ace Michalis Pelekanos and all-Euroleague second team selection Yotam Halperin, as well as keeping small forward Giorgos Printezis. Childress will have a tough matchup against Euroleague veteran Chris Warren, while Halperin is set to have a shootout against Drake Diener and Peter Lisicky. Olympiacos must worry about Tamar Slay, one of the most versatile players in European basketball due to his ballhandling, post skills and deep range. He will team up with well-rounded veteran Nikola Radulovic and three-point threat Marko Tusek at both forward spots. Slay will have the tough mission to beat Panos Vasilopoulos, while the Reds also have a versatile forward in newcomer Zoran Erceg. At the same time, Olympiacos is ready deep around the basket with former All-Euroleague center Nikola Vujcic, Sofoklis Schortsianitis and Giannis Bouroussis, who may miss the game against Avellino. Eric Williams will be a reference for Avellino in the paint, while shot blocking ace Andrea Crosariol is set to have a tough test against Schortsianitis, one of the most unstoppable players around. Olympiacos is the favourite due to its depth and talent, but Avellino is ready to give 101% on court to please its thousands of fans in its Euroleague debut.
- A number of players, including Mike Nardi, Antonio Porta, Evangelos Sakellariou and Tamar Slay, are set to make their Euroleague Basketball debuts in Week 1 against Olympiacos.
- Guard Peter Lisicky returns to the Euroleague after an absence of nearly eight years. His last Euroleague Basketball game came in November 2000 as a member of Benetton Treviso.
- Forward Nikola Radulovic and Olympiacos center Nikola Vujcic were teammates on the 2002 Asvel squad that won the French championship.
- Before the Euroleague opener, the only relation between Avelino and Olympiacos comes from… football! The legendary Greek Nikos Anastopoulos moved from Olympiacos to Avellino for the 1987-88 season and played in 16 games of the Serie A.
- Coach Panagiotis Giannakis made last season his premiere as a coach in Euroleague, when he succeeded Pinhas Gherson on the Olympiacos bench. The so called “Dragon” made history in the season 1995-96, when he led as captain Panathinaikos to the European throne in Paris, when the Greens beat FC Barcelona, 67-66, in one of the most thrilling and controversial championship game sever.
- Theodoros Papaloukas returned to Olympiacos after six years. He made his Euroleague debut in the 2001-02 season and then played with CSKA Moscow for six consecutive seasons. Papaloukas won twice the Euroleague title and was named MVP of the competition.
- Three members of the current squad have won Euroleague titles: Theodoros Papaloukas (2) with CSKA Moscow, Nikola Vujcic (2) with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Yotam Halperin (2) with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
- Olympiacos has three consecutive appearances in the Euroleague play-offs, but they didn’t make it to the Final Four, since they were eliminated by Maccabi Tel Avib, Tau Ceramica and CSKA Moscow respectively. Their last participation to the Final Four goes back to 1999, when the came third in the event which took place in Munich.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008