The new basketball league season began over the weekend with three newcomers, Arkadikos, Kavala and Lavrio replacing demoted Panionios and Panelefsiniakos and withdrawn KAO Dramas, with AGO Rethymnou renamed “Rethymno Cretan Kings”, and with Aris, AEK and PAOK stronger than in previous years in terms of rosters and budgets, but also with the same two protagonists, champion Olympiakos and cup holder Panathinaikos.
The first round of games showed that once again the league will be particularly competitive, it will be hard to guess which two teams will go down in the end, but as far as the domination of the two perennial title challengers is concerned, there is no doubt they cannot be disputed by anyone else for now.
Aris spent plenty of money this summer and has invested in Greek and imported talent to try and sneak into the top two. In the first round of games it hosted last year’s runner-up Panathinaikos in Thessaloniki, hoping it could catch the Greens off-guard, especially after their impressive away win in the Cup at Olympiakos three days earlier.
No chance! Led by James Gist in the second half, Panathinaikos won 76-70 and emerged victorious from a second tough test in four days, showing it has now geared up for the start of the Euroleague in midweek.
Olympiakos had an easy task at home against Kolossos Rhodes and won 88-62, while the other big match of the weekend took place in Athens with AEK beating PAOK 65-53.
Arkadikos came close to snatching a historic first ever win in the top flight, but the team from Tripoli succumbed to host Kifissia (formerly known as Nea Kifissia) 68-66 on Sunday. This was identical to Saturday's Kavala vs Lavrio game, that eventually saw Kavala win 68-66.
In other games Rethymno Cretan Kings defeated Apollon Patras 87-73 and Trikala triumphed 73-64 at Korivos Amaliadas.