Panathinaikos OPAP Athens will have a very different look this season as the club made several changes in the off-season. One of the moves was promoting assistant coach Georgios Vovoras to head coach. Club management gave him plenty of weapons to utilize by bringing in new players who are hungry to win for the storied Greek club but also have a wealth of experience. Howard Sant-Roos made his EuroLeague debut last season, joining CSKA Moscow mid-way through the season. Panathinaikos also added a trio of elite scorers in Nemanja Nedovic, Pierre Jackson and Marcus Foster while also signing all-arounder Aaron White. Moreover, the Greens brought big man Zach Auguste, Lefteris Bochoridis and Giorgios Kalaitzakis back to the club. Another veteran, forward Leonidas Kaselakis, signed on and will be making his EuroLeague debut.
Vovoras will have no shortage of scorers in the backcourt with Jackson, Nedovic and Foster. Jackson averaged 14.5 points for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2017-18 season to rank seventh among all league scorers that season. Nedovic not only helped Unicaja Malaga win the 2017 7DAYS EuroCup, but was third in the EuroLeague in scoring the following season with 16.8 points per game. And EuroLeague debutant Foster was second in the Israeli League in scoring last season. Sant-Roos's premier focus is on the other end of the floor as one of the premier perimeter defenders on the continent.
The frontcourt features many returning players with forward and team captain Ioannis Papapetrou as well as big men Dinos Mitoglou, Ben Bentil and Giorgios Papagiannis. Kalelakis will back up Papapetrou while White gives Vovoras some excellent versatility at the power forward spot. Auguste played only a minor role with Panathinaikos in 2017-18 - his first season in European basketball. He comes back to the Greens after a couple of strong seasons with Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul in the EuroCup.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Panathinaikos fans will quickly grow to love Sant-Roos and his selflessness. The 29-year-old is a proven winner, having captured the 2018 EuroCup with Darussafaka Istanbul while leading the competition in steals. He also won the 2019 Intercontinental Cup with AEK Athens and led Nymburk to Czech League crowns in 2016 and 2017. The first Cuban to play in the EuroLeague this century, Sant-Roos plays elite defense; his 2.53 steals per 40 minutes would have ranked third in the EuroLeague if he had played enough games to qualify. Sant-Roos also is an excellent secondary playmaker with great size (2.01 meters) who does not turn the ball over - committing just 7 turnovers in 189 minutes in 10 EuroLeague games with CSKA.
When Panathinaikos fans finally get used to not having the All-EuroLeague playmaker Nick Calathes on board, they will be excited about a team looking to play intense, energetic basketball. Vovoras has said he wants his side to play with 100 percent energy for the full 40 minutes and Sant-Roos has shown in the past he’s willing to go all out on defense. The Greens will not be an easy team to face offensively and Panathinaikos's opponents will also be seriously challenged to stop all of the team’s scoring weapons. It should not be a surprise if that playing style leads to many victories for the Greens.