Archive for the Basketball Category

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

Poor Start for Morais

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Basketball, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 0-0 Panionios

I guess all things considered, things could have gotten off to an even worse start for Morais… after all, we could have lost. But really, even though it was only his first game in charge the team really should have been able to find a way to score against Panionios.

How It All Unfolded

There were a few uncertain variables going into this game: how we would do without Galo and Patito, how Morais would line up the team, etc… Even so, I wasn’t terribly worried. We’ve been decent at home this season and the Larissa game not too long ago gave me hope that maybe the team has started to find ways of winning regardless of how they play. I hate to say it but really, if we want to have any hope of staying in the title race, results have to come first and then we can focus on playing attractive football.

Well, today, none of that seemed to be the case for the team. Sometimes after a result like today’s, I can at least say that the team played well and deserved more but that just wasn’t the case. The football I saw from the team was rather painful to watch at some points. To be fair to the defense, they did a decent job. Panionios didn’t venture up the pitch too often since they struggled to gain any meaningful possession but when they did, they rarely looked like they would threaten us.

Offensively however, we were lacking in every way. It took a good amount of time before we created any sort of a chance and when we did manage to get some chances, they were few and far between. Mantalos was maybe the only player actually contributing to our attack while Didac was also trying to provide some options down the wing. Aravidis, Platellas, Bakasetas and (I hate to say it) Almeida provided very little  to our attack though Almeida can only be blamed so much since he was hardly getting any balls into the box that he could work with.

So What Needs To Change?

Well, I’m hoping our play will smoothen out a bit as the team spends more time with Morais. They’ve only had four or five days to work with him and I imagine his system is quite different from what they were used to with Ketsbaia so I’m sure time will help a bit. To be honest though, there is only so much he can do. In fact, I have to give him some credit for fielding a decent lineup with the players he had available and though it didn’t exactly pay off, that was hardly his fault.

Who has to be blamed here is our players. There was no creativity going forward at all. Every ball that caused any danger to Panionios was a high ball in and while they could sometimes cause a scare, more than often they would end up comfortably in the keeper’s hands. The team could not come up with anything different, they could not string together any meaningful passes and they sorely lacked composure in front of the net.

From what I see, it seems as though the team needs to take a step back and approach the way they play with a clearer state of mind. Maybe they’re over thinking things, maybe they don’t trust themselves, but they should be able to be more precise offensively than they were today. Patito’s absence today was really felt, but surely we should be able to create something worthwhile without him on the pitch?

I know its still early and I know we didn’t lose the game so maybe it seems like I’m making a bigger deal of today’s result than I should be. But we absolutely need to be winning games like this, and the one against Iraklis where we also drew 0-0 at home. Especially when you take a look at our schedule for the next three games, you start to realize just how much the dropped points here will hurt us: we play PAOK away, followed by Atromitos at home, and Panathinaikos away. To be completely honest, aside from the Atromitos game I don’t see us picking up many points, if any at all, at the two away derbies. Before the season started I felt differently about these games but seeing how we’ve been playing lately, I’ll be very surprised if manage to even sneak a draw at those games.

At Least We Fared Better in Basketball

Earlier in the day our basketball club played an away game (which again felt like a home game due the wonderful presence of our supporters) against Kymis, a game which we never looked like losing from the first minute. It was a great game both defensively and offensively, and what excites me most of all is the fact that we finally seem to have a team that can score some three pointers. Too many times last season we would throw a game away by missing so many three pointers, but it seems like that might not be the case the season.

The win puts us at three for three in the league. For highlights of both the basketball and football game, check out Novasport’s page here: http://aek365.novasports.grl

What A Day For AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Basketball with tags , , , on October 18, 2016 by alexaek

Ketsbaia Out… Jose Morais In

The day after a much needed win that kept the team within reach of first place, we have parted ways with Ketsbaia. I think everyone knew he wouldn’t last a whole season, but I was surprised to see it happen today, and with such little heads up.

What was even more surprising was how quickly replaced. The timing makes me wonder whether this was planned for a while now which would explain it happening even after the win. Just a few hours after the announcements came saying that Ketsbaia was no longer with the team, Jose Morais was in town to sign his contract which would keep him with AEK at least until the end of the season.

So, who is Jose Marais afterall? I had never really heard the name before and the fact that he has had very little experience as a main coach would explain it. Thats not to say that he doesn’t have any experience at all though. He was assistant coach to Mourinho for five years between 2009 and 2014 joining the more well known Jose at Inter, Madrid, and Chelsea.

Far too early to say how this will turn out, but I’m not as upset as others online seem to be. Sure he isn’t exactly a big name, but could we really expect to get a decent name to come to Greece, while the season has already started? I’d rather we get someone quick so we can get on with it and try to get back on track before its too late.

Promising Display From AEK in First European Basketball Game of Season

A very impressive start to AEK’s European campaign today with the team never giving Hungary’s Szolnoki a chance. The final score of 92-49 did the team’s relentless performance justice as we continue to see promise from the squad. A very well rounded performance too with a number of players managing to get a few points to their name.