Almost a constant first-divison member in the 1990s, the yellow-and-black Panionios neighbors finally slipped down one level in 2002 and have not recovered since. The club where Fanis Christodoulou made his first basketball steps.MILON:
The Nea Smyrni Greens enjoyed life in the top flight just for two seasons, in neither of which it managed to stay up, despite being boosted (in the first of them) by the presence of a high-class scorer in Mitchell Wiggins. ILISIAKOS:
Another club wearing the yellow and black, based in Ilissia, a neighborhood near the University of Athens campus. Played in the first division recently for a season, but also when it was founded in 1986, when promoted from the second tier using a roster made by great veterans in the end of their careers. Ilisiakos was the cradle of current national team star Antonis Fotsis. He started playing basketball in the Club where his father also used to ply this trade, before moving first to Panathinaikos and then to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, Real Madrid and Dynamo Moscow.SPORTING:
Played for many years in the first division and this season looks ready to come back. Has a privately owned small arena in Patissia, where Panathinaikos has also recently played for some time when OAKA was closed for remodeling before the Olympic Games. Not only a strong presence in the past, but also a Korac Cup participant for two seasons under coach Costas Diamantopoulos, father of former Euroleague player Giorgos, and featuring top guns such as Mitchell Wiggins and the late Alfonso Ford. Wears burgundy and blue. THIRD-DIVISION CLUBSIONIKOS NIKEA:
The cradle of maybe the top Greek-born player of all times, Panayotis Yannakis, was a regular in the old firstdivision, but lasted in newer version just for its initial season. Wears blue and white and is located in the Piraeus suburb of Nikea. Older fans still remember the night when Ionikos played Aris in the old first division; Aris prevailed in OT, 114-113, with Yannakis scoring 72 and Nick Galis 63! NEAR EAST:
One of the oldest basketball clubs in Athens, champion of Greece in 1936. From Kessariani, adjacent to Ilissia, the club came back for a short spell in the old first division and a longer one in the new one around the turn of the millennium. During the latter they were the club that called Kostas Tsartsaris back from Iceland and gave his career the boost it needed to reach the top. Costas Politis, the coach who led Greece to the 1987 European Championship, is a living legend of the red-and-white club. PAGRATI:
Situated next to Kessariani, in the neighborhood the same name, Pagrati followed the path of most urban clubs with a bright past, now struggling to get out of the third tier of Greek basketball. It was a great team in the 1960s and 1970s, nurturing players later to play for big clubs, and enjoyed a few seasons in the first division as well. Panayotis Karatzas, a member of the 1987 Greek national team, was then playing for Pagrati before moving to Olympiacos. PERISTERI:
The one-time "Princess of the West", Peristeri is the fourth most populated municipality of Greece, with an endless pool of basketball talent. Has played in first division for most of its 21-year existence and even enjoyed a Euroleague participation before problems set in. The club where former national team point guard Angelos Koronios learned his trade. The team wears yellow and blue.FOURTH-DIVISION CLUBSESPEROS:
The most famous product of this Club is arguably Liveris Andritsos, a hero in the 1987 Greece vs. Soviet Union European Championship final. The club is based in Kallithea, wears blue and white and was not as successful in its short spells in the modern first division as it used to be in the old version. IONIKOS NEA PHILADELPHIA:
Played in the first division for just two seasons, but managed to write history as the first Greek club that moved its base to another city, from the "AEK area" to Amaliada in the Peloponnese, about 300 kilometers southwest of Athens. The move did not pay dividends: Ionikos was relegated in 2005 and returned to Nea Philadelphia, dropping down each and every season. PAPAGOU:
Nicknamed "The Generals", as it is "stationed" in a suburb mostly populated by military people, quite close to the Greek Ministry of Defense. Blue-and-white Papagou has spent quite a few years in the first division and has also played in the Korac Cup, featuring good players such as Giorgos Sigalas (on loan from Olympiacos in his youth), Alphonso Ford, Giorgos Diamantopoulos or Greg Robinson, later to play for the Utah Jazz, but has stalled of late. PIRAIKOS:
The Piraeus Club that gave birth to a giant... Piraikos was established in 1896, then in 1925 some of its members drifted away to found -you guessed it- Olympiacos... The blue-and-whites enjoyed two seasons in the top flight, but were not able to hold on and avoid relegation in either of them. The Club's most famous "product" is probably Stavros Elliniadis, a point guard who was eventually transferred to Olympiacos, played for the national team and still is across town with the Reds as their team manager....AND THE TRAIN THAT HAS STOPPED FOR GOOD.
When they took Greek basketball by storm in the 1990s, climbing a division each year, from the lowest Athens leagues to the top competition under coach Giorgos Kalafatakis, Ambelokipi were dubbed "The Train". The club was cited by everyone as the prime example of the small urban club that with hard work and a band of good players (such as Tzannis Stavrakopoulos and Giorgos Floros, who later were to play for Panathinaikos and Aris, respectively, and the national team as well) can make its dreams come true. They lasted for two seasons, offering 2006 Final Four MVP and All-Euroleague selection Theo Papaloukas his debut in the first division. The downfall was as quick as the ascension though, and now the Greens, based in the neighborhood of Athens hosting the old Panathinaikos soccer ground, are operating in the C division of Athens basketball.