New ownership boosts AEK

Just as AEK's basketball team was staring into the abyss of bankruptcy, having narrowly escaped relegation from the A1 division last year, Dimitris Drosos has arrived like some white knight to save the club. The former strongman of Alimos and Sporting, both lower-division Athens clubs that have benefited from Drosos's one-year investment each time, agreed with AEK Basketball Club's owner Yiannis Philippou to acquire a majority stake. This may be the answer to the prayers of AEK fans, who will be hoping that after almost five years in the doldrums AEK now has a chance to bounce back. The changeover was completed this week with the signing of an agreement, while moves are quickly being made to ensure that AEK is competitive in the new season. Drosos has brought in the coach he had at Sporting last year, Angelos Koronios. A former AEK player, he led Sporting to promotion to the top flight last season. Although not very experienced as a coach, Koronios has one of the highest scoring records in Greek basketball. The club toyed with the idea of switching its home ground to Peristeri, one of Athens's largest suburbs but with no top-division side. But in view of the interest generated among fans by developments at the club, Drosos decided to keep AEK at the 16,000-seat Olympic Sports Center, closer to its fan base. The next step was filling the roster with a new mix of players. AEK is now well on its way to making up for time lost in the changeover process this summer and has already reached agreement with several players. The first to join AEK last week was shooting guard Alexis Kyritsis from Maroussi. Then Dimitris Papanicolaou switched to AEK from champion Panathinaikos, followed by Nikos Barlos from Olympiakos. Yesterday Arthur Lee of Larissa and Costas Harissis of Olympiada also sealed their transfers to AEK, with more to follow. AEK has won the Greek league eight times, but only once in the last 35 years (in 2002). It has also won three Greek Cups, the European Cup Winners Cup in 1968 and the Saporta Cup in 2000.