Olympiakos coach departs

Olympiakos basketball coach Jonas Kazlauskas will not continue working with the Piraeus club, the Lithuanian informed the team’s administration early yesterday. Kazlauskas, who spent two seasons at Olympiakos, a period during which he helped revive the former powerhouse both domestically and in Europe, has also doubled up as coach of the Chinese national team over the past year. He is now expected to focus on China’s leadup to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In preceding days, it was reported that Kazlauskas was interested in carrying on with Olympiakos, but he had stopped short of committing himself. Olympiakos, also a runner-up in the previous season’s Greek league that narrowly missed out on a Euroleague Final Four place, had also hoped the Lithuanian would stay. Interestingly, just hours following Kazlauskas’s resignation from Olympiakos, Maroussi coach Panayiotis Yiannakis parted ways, amicably, with his club. Yiannakis, who like Kazlauskas has worked parallel coaching jobs in recent seasons, leading the national Greek team to the European title in Belgrade last summer, is rumored to be preparing to succeed the Lithuanian at Olympiakos, while maintaining his post with Greece. However, the prospect remains unconfirmed. Yiannakis, a former star player who captained Greece to its first-ever European title back in 1987 before becoming the first person to repeat the feat as coach, spent three-and-a-half seasons with Maroussi in a fruitful tenure that bolstered the club’s standing. In the season just ended, the Athens club ended fourth in the Greek league after Aris emerged victorious, 3-2, in a best-of-five series for third place and a Euroleague berth next season. Maroussi, whose competitive status rose to unprecedented heights under Yiannakis, did not win titles, but the club was a runner-up in both domestic and European competition. More importantly, Yiannakis introduced and established young players into the Athens club’s ranks. «[Yiannakis’s] presence at the club stands as a bright example and guide for the future,» noted part of an extended and favorable statement released yesterday by the Maroussi club.

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