AEK appears to have returned for good among the elite of Greek basketball, as after a few years of languishing in the lower divisions it is once again showing signs of grandeur that bode very well for its future, if its 89-48 Basket League triumph at Cup finalist Apollon Patras on Saturday is anything to go by.
The basketball division of the popular Athens club, just like its soccer and volleyball divisions, has had huge cash problems in the recent past and was forced to spend some time in the wilderness of the second and third tier of the game.
However the 1968 and 2000 European Cup Winners’ Cup winner, who was last crowned Greek champion in 2002, appears to be back for good in the A1 division this season and has consolidated itself at the fifth spot of the table, even hoping for a place in the league semifinals if it manages to upset PAOK or Aris come the playoffs.
On Saturday it trounced a particularly disappointing Apollon at Patra with a 41-point victory margin, the biggest in the Athens club’s recent history away from home.
This result overshadowed Panathinaikos’s 83-69 home win on Sunday over PAOK, the only team other than Olympiakos in Greece to have beaten the champion this year.
Olympiakos actually remained on top of the table as it came from 19-13 down to beat visiting AGO Rethymnou 80-60 in Piraeus on Monday.
Kolossos Rhodes overcame the shock of the sports judge’s decision that awarded Apollon Patras the victory from the game on Rhodes a week earlier – deeming that the foul and the free throws given in favor of Kolossos were after the end of regulation time. Kolossos defeated host Nea Kifissia 84-73 as Dominic Waters, who had been the hero in the match against Apollon but had that moment annulled by the sports judge, had a remarkable double-double via 15 points and 11 assists.
Panionios appears all but relegated after suffering a painful home loss to fellow struggling KAO Dramas with a 79-72 score. It has found itself three points behind safety at the table and there are only seven games left to play. Some of its fans could not take that the former Euroleague contender is heading down and caused limited riots in the locker rooms on Saturday.
Panelefsiniakos is also in big trouble, losing 81-77 at home, but it still is one point behind Korivos Amaliadas that is outside the drop zone. The Amaliada club lost 80-59 at Thessaloniki to Aris, whose Nicosia-born star Alexander Vezenkov was voted the MVP of the weekend for the third time this season.