Archive for the Basketball Category

The Fiesta We’ve All Been Waiting For

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League, Greek Football, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2018 by alexaek

A fiesta that we’ve waited 24 years for, a fiesta that has been long overdue, finally Nea Filadelfia was able to celebrate the only way we know how. Flares, chanting, and a party that probably still lingers on the streets hours after the bus carrying the champions passed by.

The celebrations really started after our 1-0 win against Apollon Smyrnis, a game which technically was an away match though in reality was played in front of about ten thousand AEK supporters.

An open roof bus, painted specifically for this occasion, made its way from Rizoupoli stadium to Nea Filadelfia where it was, as expected, greeted by a sea of singing supporters. When I was re-watching some of the live coverage, people were estimating about thirty thousand supporters in the streets, and it certainly seemed that way from the video footage that I saw.

 

Its times like these when I would give anything to have the chance to be back in Greece. Its one thing to watch videos of this thousands of kilometers away but I truly cannot even imagine what it would have been like to be in Athens tonight. I’ve been around for some great moments, such as when we won the cup in 2011, but I have a feeling the atmosphere in Athens tonight would have been pretty unbelievable with the league now over, our basketball team in the Champions League final (tomorrow!) and the stadium on its way to being completed.

Now, as Melissanidis said earlier tonight, we look forward to more championships. With time, we might just be able to celebrate them in our new stadium before we know it!

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Basketball Champions League Finalists!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League with tags , , , on May 4, 2018 by alexaek

After a tough game against Murcia that was a little too close for comfort, AEK managed to book its place in the Champions League Finals set to take place this Sunday. The final score of 77-75 was enough to put us through in front of what was, as to be expected, incredible support from our fans in Athens.

Final 4 for AEK!

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Champions League with tags , , on April 4, 2018 by alexaek

AEK has booked its place in the Basketball Champions League Final 4, exactly 50 years after winning the European Cup Winners Cup against Slavia. All we needed to do was not lose by more than 9 points so the final score of 83-83 against Strasburg was more than enough to see us through. At the moment, there is talk of Athens being the most likely city to host the Final 4 and not only would that be a huge boost to our chances of winning the tournament, but it would be so fitting that we win a European championship once again in the same city where we won our first 50 years ago.

The players, as expected, enjoyed every minute of their celebrations after the game:

Our supporters in France were also in great form after breaking the Champions League attendance record last week in Athens:

It was our players though who stole the show:

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.