The new Basket League season opened last weekend with the absence of Olympiakos for the first time in the Greek sport’s history, and with a rare Thessaloniki derby reminiscent of the Aris vs PAOK classic clashes of the 1980s.
Olympiakos abandoned the Basket League in protest last spring and is about to field a team in the A2 division, while keeping its Euroleague business as usual. This makes Panathinaikos the huge favorite for another title, and the Greens confirmed that with an 89-68 sweep of AEK on Saturday at the Olympic Sports Hall.
Aris earned bragging rights in Thessaloniki after beating a stubborn PAOK 85-82 in overtime on Sunday, having Lefteris Bochoridis as its star, and the Most Valuable Player of the weekend for the Basket League.
In another court where the stands were filled to capacity, Ifaistos Limnou defeated Rethymno 66-50 with a record performance in defense.
Promoted Ionikos Nikaias hosted Lavrio, that has taken the spot of bankrupt Kymi, and the visitors scored a precious 94-90 victory.
Kolossos also bought its way back into the top flight – having been relegated last season – as it merged with Holargos and at the opening game in its new court on Rhodes island it thrashed Panionios 89-61.
Second-tier club Ermis Ayias received a wild card to replace Olympiakos in the top flight and it chose to move to neighboring Larissa over the summer and get renamed Larissa BC. However in its first match in the Basket League it got a beating by last season’s finalist Promitheas Patras 96-69 at home.
Another promoted team, Iraklis, also had a difficult debut as it suffered a 75-59 reverse at Peristeri. It will try to make amends on October 5 when it faces Aris at home in another Thessaloniki derby.