Archive for the Basketball Category

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.

 

AEK 2-3 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, football, Greek Football, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by alexaek

Well I guess all good things must eventually come to an end. After going undefeated for so long with Jimenez as coach, we finally faced our first defeat in months after a heartbreaking loss to PAO.

I was away for the weekend so I didn’t get the chance to watch the game live, but I did record it so when I get the chance I’ll try to catch a bit of it. From the sounds of it though, it seemed like it was quite the entertaining match. The result was definitely not what I had hoped for and to be honest, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately though, you never know what to expect when getting back to action after long international breaks. These breaks often seem to come at a terrible time, as they did for us these past two weeks when we seemed to have some momentum. I was afraid we’d come back a little hesitant and it seems like we did.

Thankfully, we’re still in a playoff spot but had we managed to hold on to the draw rather than concede in the last minute, we would have been only two points off of PAO. Our schedule from this point on though is, in theory, a comfortable one so I imagine we’ll manage to stay in fifth until the end of the season.

I won’t comment much on the game since I didn’t see it, but I will mention that it looked like, once again, our supporters put on quite the show. Although I will say I was a bit disappointed by the size of the crowd.

One final word though, with regards to some interesting news out of Greece last week. It was announced that, for the first time since the playoff format was setup in the Superleague, next season’s champion will also take part in the playoffs. I was never a big fan of the playoff format but having 1st through 5th play for the title at least makes a lot more sense, in addition to hopefully making the playoffs a whole lot more interesting in seasons to come.

On a basketball related note, today was the anniversary of our famous win against Slavia, when our basketball club became the first Greek side to win a European trophy. That famous result of course happened in 1968, and to see some pictures of the team honouring the event, check out this link.

AEK 2-0 Asteras Tripolis

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by alexaek

Good start for Jimenez

As I mentioned in my last post, rumours were floating around saying that Manolo Jimenez was on his way to Athens for his second stint in charge of AEK. The next day, those rumours turned out to be true as Jimenez signed a contract which will keep him with the team until at least the end of the season.

Thankfully for both Jimenez himself as well as the team, the Spaniard’s first game in charge ended with a comfortable 2-0 win over a team that has given us a hard time these past couple seasons. Goals from both Pekhart and Mantalos (both now have five goals this season) were enough to seal the win though by all accounts it sounds like it was a solid team effort all around. Even players like Simoes and Johansson, players who have been having mediocre seasons compared to what we’ve come to expect of them, turned up and played a phenomenal game. In fact, Johansson ended up with the MVP award for the game, something which I pretty much felt he deserved every game last season compared to the current season.

I’m not sure if its just because of the change, or if Jimenez has already managed to bring some positive change to the team. I feel like theres definitely something about Jimenez that can really give the club a boost for the rest of the season: hes passionate, he knows the team, and he has some solid experience. On top of that, I feel like he would be a much more motivating figure in the dressing room than someone like Ketsbaia was.

Apologies in advance for the poor quality highlights, they were all I could find on YouTube from the game.

Comfortable win for basketball team as well

Our basketball team played earlier in the weekend against Apollonas Patras and came away from the game with a convincing 88-69 win. As has been the case for most of the season, the win means we still sit comfortably in third, one point behind PAO and two behind Olympiakos.

Busy Day for AEK

Posted in AEK, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 18, 2017 by alexaek

Bad news first…

We played a league game today against Panaitolikos on a pitch that resembled a swamp more than anything else. How we were allowed to play on that pitch when the ball barely rolled at all is beyond me, but the game went ahead regardless.

The final result? A 3-2 loss. Surprised? I’m not. Its embarrassing that its gotten to the point where I half expect us to lose. And not without reason either. We haven’t won an away game since the 10th of October, when we beat Larissa 2-1. We haven’t even won a home game since the 10th of December, more than a month ago…

I didn’t watch the match and I’m not exactly upset that I didn’t. From what I read it sounded as though Barkas made some tragic mistakes after playing the game of his life on Sunday. Some other things worth noting from the game include the fact that Almeida finally scored again and that two of the goals scored for Panaitolikos were scored by our former player, Grigoris Makos.

What was probably more noteworthy from the game was what happened afterwards, when Morais announced at his press conference that he was leaving the team. Thats right, another coach gone.

His departure was quickly confirmed by the club a little while after, around the same time that rumours began circulating that Manolo Jimenez was ready to take over. Jimenez is, of course, the same coach who was in charge when we won the Cup a few years ago.

How do I feel about all of this? Well of course it isn’t confirmed, but at this point I’m kind of indifferent. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t expect much from the club this year so if Jimenez is the guy who can miraculously turn things around, great. If not, I’m sure things can’t be any worse than they are now.

Time for some good news.

We played against Partizan for the final match of the Basketball Champions League group stages today. Our qualification to the next round was guaranteed before the match started, but a win against Partizan would have cemented 2nd place for us. Key three pointers by players such as Ukic (yet again) ensured that we left Belgrade with the win and 2nd place clinched. 69-65 was the final score which meant that though we had a similar record to a few other clubs in the group, we clinched second due to a better record among those teams tied for second.

What happens from this point on all depends on who we face in the next rounds, meaning clinching 2nd was all the more important as it allows us to face an easier opponent. I’m not sure yet who we might possibly face but I would say that aside from a few teams, there isn’t anybody who we couldn’t be competitive against. I can’t say how far we’ll make it in the tournament, but I feel pretty good about our chances of at least making it to one more round. From then on, who knows. All I know is that after all this time, it feels great to see an AEK basketball team that is competitive in Europe once again.

Derby Weekend Disappoints

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Football with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by alexaek

Stalemate in the Athens Derby

Going into the match against PAO this weekend, I was kind of expecting a draw. Both teams haven’t been having a great season and ultimately its safe to say that the squads for either team have proven to be equally disappointing this season.

I’ll take the 0-0 draw because to be honest, I would not have been surprised if we found a way to lose this one. Its unfortunate though that we didn’t come away with more since, from what I read, we had quite a few chances during the first half. In fact it sounded as though we controlled much of the game until closer towards the end so its too bad that we couldn’t have snatched a goal and maybe lifted the spirits of our players a bit. On the other hand though, Barkas did make some incredible saves to deny PAO a few goals, so it does seem like it evens out in the end.

A couple things worth noting:

-Terrible offsides called against both sides

-Terrible defense from both sides

-Amazing goaltending from both sides (though special mention for Barkas, as some of those saves were outstanding)

I don’t have too much to say about the game, I was on a train in the middle of New York and the wifi was nonexistent (though I expected this going into the ride). Ultimately the game was what I expected it would be, and one of those “derbies”that are better off being forgotten.

I do miss the days of derbies like this one:

 

More Disappointment in Thessaloniki

Our basketball team had one of its most important games of the season this past Saturday as they took on Aris in Thessaloniki for a chance to make it to the Cup final. The last time we played in a Cup Final? April of 2001, when we beat PAO 66-64.

The game this weekend was far more entertaining than the football match back in Athens but in the end, we were painfully eliminated when Aris won the game with two seconds left on the clock. It was a far closer game than when we last played Aris and beat them comfortably, but its safe to say that both sides were expecting a close match. 77-76 was the final score, meaning Aris will now go on to face PAO in the final.

PAOK 71-78 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Players, Basketball, Derby, PAOK with tags , , , on November 12, 2016 by alexaek

An extremely important win for AEK in the league today, one which saw us struggle but ultimately show the character needed to come away from Thessaloniki with the win. Seeing as we had yet to play a derby until today, this match was one of our first major tests and though it wasn’t always smooth sailing for us, the team did well to do what was needed to keep our perfect start to the season.

Dixon was one of the standout players for us with 22 points including a crucial 3 pointer towards the end of the match to seal the win for us. Ukic also, unsurprisingly, had a great game with 16 points to his name. We trailed for most of the match and despite closing the score down a few times, it wasn’t until the 3rd period where we were finally able to go in front after a 12 point run. PAOK managed to keep the score close from that point on but we never relinquished our lead and managed to hold on despite a nervous final few minutes.

It must be said that despite the win, today’s performance was not among our best this season. To be fair, playing against PAOK up north is never easy and Vaseiliadis, a lifelong PAOK supporter who has never played against them at home, was clearly struggling.

Highlights can be seen here: http://aek365.novasports.gr