Greek basketball champion Panathinaikos parted ways with coach Xavi Pascual on Thursday and is reported to be close to hiring former Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
The 21-point loss at Real Madrid on Wednesday was the last straw for the Catalan coach who was told on Thursday he will no longer lead Panathinaikos, after taking it to two league titles but no Euroleague Final Fours, falling at the play-off hurdle in both cases.
This season Pascual had Panathinaikos unbeaten in the Greek league, but in the Euroleague it had seven losses in 13 games to date.
Pascual’s former assistants Giorgos Vovoras and Frangiskos Alvertis will coach the team in the next few games, starting with Friday’s home game against Armani Milano for the Euroleague.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that a Panathinaikos official said the Athens club is in talks with Pitino, who was sacked by Louisville in 2017 following a corruption scandal known as “pay-for-play”.
The Greens’ official told AP that "contacts have been made" and it is "probable" the US coach and Panathinaikos will reach an agreement, that would be the first job for Pitino in Europe.
US reports converged to the view that Pitino would only come to Athens after Christmas and up to the end of the season, as his main aim is to return to the NBA. He has already coached the New York Knicks.