Club darling gets the sack

Olympiakos basketball club, a former European champion currently struggling at the bottom of the domestic league, yesterday announced that it had ended the contract of guard Milan Tomic, the club’s most popular player who spent over a decade with the Piraeus team. A key player during Olympiakos’s extended period of glory which produced a European title in the 1996/97 season and five Greek league titles, Tomic, a Serb, joined the club in 1991 as an 18-year-old naturalized Greek. Over the years, he had become the darling of club fans. The team’s manager, Christos Stavropoulos, broke the news to the long-serving player yesterday following a board meeting. Tomic was told to not take part in yesterday’s training session and informed that he would not be included in the squad for tonight’s EuroLeague match against Estudiantes in Madrid. Recently, rumors were rife that Tomic had formed a clique with teammates that was undermining the efforts of the club’s Lithuanian coach, Jonas Kaslauskas. Tomic spent a brief spell as interim coach at the end of last season and the beginning of this season prior to the Lithuanian’s appointment. A recent 110-59 home thrashing at the hands of Turkish side Efes Pilsen, the heaviest loss in the club’s history, is believed to have enraged the team’s president, Socrates Kokkalis, who is also in charge of the club’s soccer division. At yesterday’s meeting, during which it was decided to terminate Tomic’s contract, the club’s administration also agreed to impose a penalty on the entire roster for the embarrassing defeat. The amount is expected to measure 10 percent of monthly earnings. Interestingly, fans turned against all players but Tomic following the debacle against Efes Pilsen. According to pundits, Tomic’s sacking is likely to constitute just part of an overall reshuffle at the dispirited side. Compatriot Dusan Vuksevic, currently serving a second tenure with Olympiakos following an intermediate period with Real Madrid, is one of several players rumored to be on the way out. There were no comments from the 31-year-old player, and, until late yesterday, it remained unclear what his next move would be.