Trio set for Euroleague action

Two of the country’s three representatives in the Euroleague, the continent’s premier club-level basketball competition, begin their European campaigns for the new season tomorrow. Panathinaikos, the reigning European champion as well as Greek league and cup winner last season, opens at home against Lottomatica Roma in a Group C game and Thessaloniki club Aris hosts Spanish club Unicaja in Group B. Scheduled to play on Thursday, Olympiakos, Greece’s other representative, also plays at home, against Spanish team Tau Ceramica in Group A. All three Greek teams began the Euroleague season with victories in the opening round of domestic play at the weekend. Panathinaikos, just back from a brief two-city exhibition tour in the US that resulted in losses against the current NBA title holder San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets, started the Greek league with a 90-81 win over Cretan club AGO Rethymno. Playing in Patras, Aris defeated Olympiada 85-67 and Olympiakos defeated Thessaloniki team PAOK 76-66 in Piraeus. Panathinaikos coach Zelimir Obradovic led his side to the opening round of domestic play with concerns about fatigue problems following the Athens team’s trip to the USA. And, judging by the subdued performance of his players against AGO Rethymno, he was proven right. Olympiakos, which takes on a Tau Ceramica side that was defeated at home in the Spanish league last weekend, managed to defeat PAOK courtesy of individual efforts by certain players. Pini Gershon and his squad still have considerable work ahead if the Piraeus club is to fine-tune and shoot for a Final Four berth in the Euroleague. Of Greece’s three Euroleague representatives, Aris looked the most mature last weekend with its comfortable 18-point win against Olympiada.