It was a festive night in the Greek capital on Wednesday as past and future came together to celebrate Panathinaikos Athens. In a special "Honoring Our Legacy" event, the five greatest players of the club's last quarter century were celebrated during the first preseason game the 2015-16 Panathinaikos squad played in Athens this season. Current Panathinaikos stars Dimitris Diamantidis and Antonis Fotsis were joined by fellow greats Dejan Bodiroga, Fragiskos Alvertis and Stojko Vrankovic for the special ceremony at Olympic Sports Center Athens. The five legends were selected in an online vote by fans on the club's website.
As part of the celebration, Panathinaikos announced that its former home court on Alexandras Avenue in Athens will henceforth be known as "Pavlos Giannakopoulos Arena". That arena is where Panathinaikos played its first European games and continues to serve the club's youth teams to this day. Together with his brother Thanasis, Pavlos Giannakopoulos owned Panathinaikos from 1987 through 2012 and served as president of the basketball section for the first 15 years of that term.
After the festivities concluded, the new-look Panathinaikos side defeated visiting Partizan Belgrade 66-56 to make the festive evening complete. It was the first time fans were able to see new head coach Sasha Djordjevic, centers Miroslav Raduljica and Ognjen Kuzmic and guard Nick Calathes together with the team in action. The four missed the start of training due to their respective obligations to the Serbian and Greek national teams for EuroBasket 2015. Sasha Pavlovic led the Greens with 16 points and James Feldeine added 11.
The game was the last for Panathinaikos in Athens for awhile. First, the team heads out on the 2015 Euroleague Basketball World Tour to play two games in Asia next week. The Greens will face the Zhejiang Lions on September 28 in Hangzhou, China, and two days later will go against the Guangdong Tigers in Macau, China.
Upon returning to Europe, Panathinaikos will first visit Russia where it will compete in the Alexander Gomelsky Cup alongside fellow Turkish Airlines Euroleague sides CSKA Moscow and Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz.