Archive for the Basketball Category

Where Do I Begin?

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, Europa League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2018 by alexaek

What a season this has been for us AEK supporters so far. Away from the blog for one week and I have not one, not two, but three incredibly important AEK stories to discuss. Whats more is that it all took place within the span of about four days. Lets start at the beginning though:

Last Thursday we faced Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League Round of 32. The match, the first of two, took place in Athens and as I’m sure most of you know ended in a 1-1 draw. The result is a disappointing one seeing as we’ve conceded the away goal without coming away with a win, but it hardly signals the end of the road for us in Europe. A win in Kiev will guarantee we go through, but so will a 2-2 draw (or any draw really that doesn’t end 0-0 or 1-1).

I honestly have hope that we can get the result we need. We’ve already seen this team perform well with their backs against the wall this season (just look at the comeback wins against Olympiakos this season for example) and on top of that, we outplayed the Ukranians in Athens. The results might not suggest that, but we were genuinely the better team and one look at the match stats confirms that. For example, we created 14 chances (while they had 3), and 6 of our chances were on target (compared to their 1 on target). We also had 64% possession and had double the completed passes. I know this counts for little when the result isn’t favourable, but if anything it gives me hope that we have what it takes to advance.

Having said that, its worth keeping in mind that we will be without Vranjes and Livaja after they both picked up yellow cards, and both those absences will be a huge loss for us. Being without Livaja is something we could live with, but missing Vranjes will leave a gap for sure, so hopefully both Lambropoulos and Chyrgrinskiy are ready come kick off.

Apologies for the poor quality highlights, it was all I could really find on youtube:


To help us get over the disappointment in the Europa League from a few days prior, our Basketball club took part in the Greek Cup final on Saturday against Olympiakos. This was our first chance of winning the Cup since 2001 and our first chance of winning any silverware since 2002 so needless to say, there was a lot of expectation. On top of that, its been a rather celebratory year for the team as they’ve been celebrating the team’s 50th Anniversary since winning  the Cup Winner’s Cup and in the process becoming the first Greek team to win a European trophy in a major sport. Needless to say, the stage was set for what was bound to be a tight game and neither team disappointed.

Ultimately, we were able to do more than enough to come out on top after having thoroughly outplayed Olympiakos. It was a close game throughout but it was clear AEK we’re the stronger side for most of the game as I can only remember one point at which Olympiakos had the lead. Having said that, both teams played a great game and it was one of the more enjoyable basketball games I’ve watched this season, made even more enjoyable thanks to our 88-83 win. Its yet another win against Olympiakos across both Football and Basketball as we also beat Olympiakos’ basketball team earlier this season.

As was to be expected, the team’s reception at the Airport in Athens as they returned from Crete was quite the party:

And for those who didn’t get the chance to watch the match, it can be watched in its entirety here:


The weekend only got better from that point on as next up was our football match against Xanthi. Now, a league game at home against a respectable but non-threatening opponent would normally not be cause for much celebration but what happened during our 4-0 win was something worth noting. In fact, it was downright historic. Why you might ask? It all comes down to the fact that Vranjes, a centre back, had scored a hat trick by the 33rd minute. Never in the history of 1st division Greek football has a centre back scored a hat trick. Even Vranjes himself has never scored more than 3 goals in an entire season yet here he was, scoring 3 goals in 33 minutes.

Amazing really, and even more amazing when you consider some of the great centre backs we’ve had over the years: Manolas, Dellas, and Papastathopoulos are just a few that come to mind. Almost equally amazing is the fact that its been over ten years since someone scored a hat trick for AEK: the last time that happened was when Liberopoulos scored 3 in a 5-2 win over Aigaleo back in 2007.

The win, as is every win from this point onwards, was huge for us as PAOK won yet again, meaning they’re still 2 points up on us. They have two tough games coming up followed by their match against us so as long as we can keep the pressure on, theres a very good chance we can find ourselves in the lead in a few weeks time.


Back To Winning Ways

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Greek Cup with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by alexaek

After a less than ideal weekend, our football and basketball teams got back to winning ways in the Cup and Champions League respectively. For our football side, it was a 4-0 away win against Panaitolikos that all but secures us a place in the next round courtesy of goals from Lazaros, Bakasetas, Galo, and Giakoumakis.

A win for AEK was always going to be the more likely result, but it was nice to also see the team get back to goal scoring ways after they struggled so much over the weekend against Apollon. It was a pretty strong lineup that Jimenez fielded today with only Galanopoulos being the non-regular. Otherwise it was a lineup similar to what we’ve been used to seeing this season which I didn’t mind considering the team will have a couple weeks to rest before they return after the break. One noticeable player missing was Simoes, who was recently diagnosed with an injury that should keep him sidelined for about 3-4 weeks.

All in all a good result which should give us a chance to rest some key players when the next match takes place in early January. I’m reading up on the match and watching the recording as I write this, but from what I’m seeing it looks like we were clearly the stronger side and generally played some fairly attractive football. That’s a relief to see considering how poor we looked over the weekend. Its promising to see that the team was able to turn things around quickly and not dwell on what happened last weekend for too long, and its also nice to see Barkas get the cleansheet. Considering we don’t really know what will happen with regards to Anestis’ contract, we’ll need all the goaltending we can get from Barkas and Tsintotas.


It wasn’t only our football club in action today as we also had a basketball game against Venezia for the Champions League. I had mixed feelings going into this game about whether we’d pull off a result considering we managed to beat them in Italy, but we also didn’t look too great against PAOK over the weekend. Luckily, our basketball team was also able to put their disappointing result behind them and come away with a 84-64 win.

The win was a huge one for us as it puts us 3rd place in our group and in a good spot for qualification to the next round. Green finished the night with 19 points and 10 assists while Mavroeidis also had 19 points complimented by 6 rebounds. Other noteworthy performances came from Sakota who finished with 10 points and Harris and James who both finished with 8 points.

Despite the result and the fact that we find ourselves in 3rd place, the group is still very tight with 3rd to 6th all tied on 14 points. Its worth remembering that the top four teams from each group advance so we’re safe where we are at the moment, but any poor results going forward could be the difference between qualifying and going home early.

AEK 0-0 Apollon Smyrnis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , on December 18, 2017 by alexaek

Just like that, after what was a great weekend all around for AEK last week, we’re brought back to down to earth with one of our most disappointing results of the season. I don’t know what it is exactly about Apollon, but they’ve given us a hard time the past few times we played them and Saturday was no exception. Just looking at our past results was enough to have me worried that we might drop some points against them: 3 of our past 4 competitive matches against them have now ended in draws.

Now sometimes teams come into OAKA and play a very well structured defensive system, one that gives us a hard time to break down. What disappointed me most about this match though was that was hardly even the case. Sure Apollon played defensively but it wasn’t really effective. Instead, what let us down this time around was that we were simply ineffective going forward. We had a few half chances, but rarely did we genuinely look like scoring. To be fair to them team, its been a busy few months and overall they’ve looked alright, so I think its not a huge surprise that they might slump for a game.

The timing however was just awful. Had we won, we would have gone into the Christmas break as leaders of the league for yet another week. Instead, we find ourselves in 2nd, even on points with PAOK. Of course we’re still only one point behind Oly so in theory we should still have a chance, but Oly have been in pretty good form lately and with some Europa League games coming up in 2018, fatigue will play a bigger role on us than it will with them.

It wasn’t only our football match that was a let down, as we also suffered an awful defeat to PAOK in Basketball, losing 86-65 to PAOK in a match where it sounds like we just didn’t show up. Things were looking good for us going into this game as we were not only coming off of the win against Oly, but also an important European win against Estudiantes. A win against PAOK would added considerable momentum at a time when we desperately need it but instead the team just faces more pressure now to get results. We barely have a chance at advancing in Europe and we now find ourselves 6th in the league. We’re still not even half way through the season so theres still plenty of time to turn it around, and if theres one positive to take from this season so far, its that its still even and that any position behind PAO and Oly is still definitely up for grabs.


AEK 3-1 Kerkyra

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2017 by alexaek

After another weekend of wins for Oly, PAOK, and Atromitos, the pressure was on AEK again today to get a win. Sure enough, they delivered yet again and for another week remain on top. Its still a fragile lead, with only one point separating us and Oly, but as long as we keep getting results I can’t complain.

Today’s match went as expected against second to last placed Kerkyra, although Kerkyra definitely didn’t get off to the start they had hoped for after their keeper scored an own goal to open the scoring for AEK. It all happened in the 11th minute when Lazaros had two chances to finish from point blank range but it was instead the keeper who ended up getting the ball into the back of the net.

Kone continued the scoring, scoring his first goal with AEK in over ten years. And what a goal it was; a poor clearance by Kerkyra landed right at Kone’s chest who with some great control and a beautiful finish lobbed the ball right out of the keeper’s reach and into the net.

Araujo finished off the scoring for AEK after yet another poor clearance by Kerkyra’s defense ultimately landed at the Argentinian’s feet. Araujo, showing sings of what we came to expect of him last year, finished it beautifully with a one timer that left the keeper with no chance.

Kerkyra managed to pull one back but it was too little too late for them. The penalty that lead to their goal was questionable at best, but it was the only downside of what was another convincing performance by AEK.

Whats most impressive for me about our recent performances is that we’re consistently getting results without Mantalos and Johansson. Players like Klonaridis and Kone who earlier in the season weren’t showing as much promise as we expected are now proving to have rather considerable roles in the team. Even Araujo, who had a slow start to his season this year, is starting to find himself on the scoresheet more and more often. Its a good time for the team to find some form since it will only get tougher from this point on as the pressure increases. The only thing I’m weary about at this point is that with the Christmas break fast approaching, its a very real possibility that the break might affect our momentum. Of course, it might not affect us at all, but its always a risk when you’re away from the game for a while.


Today’s result wasn’t the only news for our football team today. Earlier in the day, the draws took place for who we would face in the Europa League Round of 32 and to be honest, I feel like it could definitely be worse. The luck of the draw paired us with Dynamo Kiev, Ukranian runners up last season. I’m not saying it will be an easy two matches by any stretch, but we definitely have more of a chance at getting a favourable result against them than say Atletico Madrid or Arsenal for example (even if both of those teams aren’t in great form in their respective leagues).


One last piece of AEK news worth mentioning comes from our basketball game yesterday. We played Olympiakos and considering our recent league form, I don’t think anybody was realistically expecting much of a result. Instead, what happened was something that hasn’t happened in 13 years: we won! 13 years since the last time we beat Olympiakos in Basketball, we beat them again with a score of 66-62. It was a tight game, and towards the end the lead was fluctuating between the two sides quite a bit.

Its been an interesting season for our basketball club. We’re in mediocre form (and thats being generous) in the league and we’re even worse off in European play, yet we’ve beat PAO and Oly within the span of about a month. Strange times indeed, but hopefully our recent switch of coaches will help after we hired Dragan Sakota as our coach for the third time in his career.


Catching Up

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Europa League with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2017 by alexaek

Its been quite a while since my last post and quite a bit has happened since then so I’ll go through a recap of the major stories below.

CSKA Eliminate AEK from Champions League

So our much anticipated return to the Champions League, albeit in the qualifying rounds, was a disappointment. Everyone expected CSKA to be a tough team to come up against and truth be told they were the stronger team. Having said that, a better result was definitely possible but we ultimately came up short losing 2-0 in Athens and 1-0 in Moscow. Its hard to say whether we were more let down by our goaltending and defending, or by our lack of offense. A lot of the blame definitely falls on our defense and goaltending due to the similar nature of all three goals. I understand letting one corner slip in, but when all three goals conceded come from corners, something clearly isn’t right. The team should have learned from the first but it seemed like they didn’t.

I’m hoping our defending of corners was just something momentary that affected us during those two CSKA games because if not, I could see a lot of teams targeting us on set plays if it clearly becomes a weakness. It didn’t help over the two CSKA games that our offense was lacking. We created a few chances during the second leg, after we had already gone down by two goals, but we struggled to make any meaningful progress into CSKA territory during the first leg. It wasn’t so much that we couldn’t finish, but rather that we simply couldn’t even create any worthwhile chances.

I’m not convinced Jimenez went with the best lineup for the first match either. Giakoumakis wasn’t even included as a sub, and I feel like we would have been better off going forward if either Patito or Klonaridis had been in the starting lineup.


Club Brugge Next European Opponent for AEK

Our next European match will be a Europa League qualifier against Belgian side Club Brugge. Brugge, similarly to CSKA, have gotten off to a promising start in their league so they seem to be in good form. I feel like a positive result is definitely possible, but we will have to play better than we did against CSKA. I know we aren’t a powerhouse, but I feel like the team let their guard down in those two games against CSKA, something which we really can’t afford to do again. I’m sure we’ll be more weary of corners this time around but its our offense that worries most. The fact that we didn’t score a single goal against CSKA is a concern for me since this team has the ability to do better. I think a lot of our success will come from simply calming things down and taking more control of the game. Brugge have scored nine goals in their first three league games so we clearly can’t afford to let them get too comfortable.

Possible Araujo Return

There has been a lot of talk lately in Spain and Greece regarding the situation with Araujo at Las Palmas. He has been left out of the lineup for the majority of their games recently and it seems like he is increasingly looking to get away again. At one point, he even “liked” a post on instagram asking him to come back to AEK and its clear he still looks at AEK fondly. I don’t know what kind of move it would be if he were to come back with regards to it being a transfer (still unlikely we can afford that) or as another loan. All I know at this point is that we can really use someone like him to boost our attack. With some European games coming up as well, it would be a good chance for him to showcase himself to a wider audience.

Stadium Progress

There was a comment on last post about the team acquiring the final license needed to start construction of the stadium. Shortly after that the team hosted a festival in the grounds of the where the stadium will be built with live music and a blessing of the land. It looked like an amazing atmosphere, one filled with happiness and celebration, the kind of thing we normally see when we win a cup.

I’ll admit that I was excited since it was so hard not to be. But, I was still a bit hesitant. I mean theres been so many promises over the years that its hard to really believe it might some day be happening. Well, if I had any doubt before, its safe to say that it is all but gone. The two videos below show some of the construction progress that has been taking place and it genuinely looks like we might see the foundations of a stadium show up their soon. To think that we will one day within the next few years finally have our own stadium is, while hard to believe, such an amazing feeling. Not only will we have our own stadium but we will have the stadium which will be hands down the most impressive venue in Greek sports. Simply just browsing through the comments on various sports sites and it is clear that even PAO and Olympiakos fans are at least a little bit jealous of what will some day be our new home.


Basketball Team Making Progress

It had been a fairly quiet off season for our basketball team these past few months, something which had me a bit worried. However over the past few weeks, Aggelopoulos has made some significant signings which will bolster our squad significantly, notably the singings of Manny Harris and Delroy James, two players with significant experience in American and European basketball. We also signed promising 19 year old Giannis Agravanis, one of the more highly regarded talents for the Greece youth system. Its still early and I’m expecting a couple more singings, but it seems like we might have a competitive team this season. Its hard to say whether they will be significantly stronger than last season’s roster, but I feel like there will at least a bit of an improvement.


AEK 1-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by alexaek

We managed to come away with the three points at the last minute yesterday against PAO, courtesy of a late goal from Lazaros against his former club. The win follows our disappointing home 0-1 home loss to Panionios, a performance which saw us create very few noteworthy chances.

Luckily we got the better result yesterday against PAO, a result which puts us in first place in the playoffs courtesy of PAOK’s 1-0 win against Panionios. It wasn’t a great performance by any means, especially considering we were playing against a depleted PAO squad, but it definitely puts us in a good spot going into the fourth round.

Thankfully we managed to create some chances this game with Mantalos coming close on a header. Arguably the biggest chance though came when Almeida was faced with a rather routine tap into a practically empty net. Unfortunately though he came up short and ended up sending the ball over the cross bar, missing a chance that no professional forward should ever realistically miss.

The game seemed to be heading to a 0-0 draw before Lazaros took a shot from distance that managed to sneak its way into the net. It was the kind of goal that we’ve come to expect from him, a shot from distance with enough power that it manages one way or another to find its way into the net, and I must say that its nice to see him go for it. I’ve always felt that it doesn’t hurt to take shots if you know you have a good foot: maybe it goes in, maybe it goes out for a corner, or maybe you get a helpful rebound, either way a lot of good can come of it.

It wasn’t all good news this weekend though as AEK’s basketball team faced PAO for game four of the Basket league playoffs. After winning a historic match against PAO two games earlier, we ended up falling short last week in game three. All was not lost though as game four was to be played in front of our supporters again and I felt like we had a chance to even the series for a second time. It was not meant to be however as not only did we lose, but we lost in a huge way with a final score of 67-105 showing just how big the difference was between the two sides. Our defense was awful and practically non-existent at times and our offense looked extremely uninspired. It was too bad considering the team gave us so much hope with that win last weekend.

Its the end of the season again for us, but I think this past season really does set us up well for the next one. We had a great run in Europe and we looked good a lot of the times against PAO and Olympiakos. We clearly aren’t where we want to be yet to challenge for a European final or the Championship, but the foundations are there. Unfortunately though, a lot of work still needs to be done and money still needs to be spent. Its promising though and if management is keen on building upon what they have, as they seem to be, we have reason to optimistic about what lies ahead.


A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.