Four days before it opens the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 on the road, Zalgiris Kaunas has a new head coach, its third of the season, having signed Ilias Zouros of Greece on Saturday. Zouros, 44, arrives from Panellinios, where he led the club to its best results in decades last season and was named the Eurocup Coach of the Year. Zouros guided Panellinios to both the Eurocup and Greek League semifinals. Zouros replaces Rimantas Grigas, who will return to his previous job of sports director for Zalgiris one month after taking over the bench when Aco Petrovic was released. Zalgiris starts Top 16 play on Wednesday in Valencia, Spain against Power Electronics.
Zouros started his coaching career at the age of 20 with the cadet and the junior teams at Panionios. He moved next to Peristeri, serving as assistant coach to the senior team. He continued as an assistant coach at Sporting, Maroussi, Olympiacos and the Greek national team. In the summer of 2000, he was named head coach of Olympiacos, replacing the legendary Giannis Ioannidis, and led that team to the Euroleague quarterfinals. He remained at Olympiacos until February 2002, and then moved to Sagesse in Lebanon, guiding the club to the Asian Club Championship. Afterwards, he returned to Greece with Near East. He coached Aris Thessaloniki in 2005-06, leacing after three months to take over on the French club Racing Paris Levallois, where he remained until he signed for Panellinios in December 2007. Zouros also enjoys the distinction of having coached Olympiacos in the historic first game of the new Euroleague in October 2000 on the road at Real Madrid. The bench at Zalgiris will be his second Euroleague job.