Millions invested but to no avail

A total of 50 million euros invested in the transfer market this season by Greece’s three Euroleague representatives ended without avail on Wednesday, the night when Olympiakos, the country’s last survivor in the competition, was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The amounts spent by Greece’s two biggest clubs, Panathinaikos and Olympi-akos – 22 and 20 million euros respectively – ranked among the highest in Europe, along with the money dished out by CSKA Moscow, now through to the Final Four. The Euroleague campaigns of Panathinaikos and Olympiakos ended in failure for different reasons. Thessaloniki team Aris remained at square one after failing to proceed beyond the Round of 16 for a second successive season. The biggest disappointment came from Panathinaikos, last year’s European champion, whose most expensive squad ever failed to reach high ground. Panathinaikos’s elimination was a shock. There were no hints of an imminent crash during the 14 games of the opening group stage, from which the Athens club emerged with a 12-2 record. The European champion did not fall during the cut-throat stage of the best-of-three quarterfinals, but fell in the Round of 16 where amends can be made for a bad game or two amid a total of six group games. The Athens club maintained a perfect record at home but was unable to produce a single victory in three away games. Panathinaikos seemed like a side that had not done its homework for crucial games. Olympiakos scraped through the first stage under former coach Pini Gershon, found itself in a relatively easy group for the Round of 16, and under its new coach, Panayiotis Yiannakis, made it through to the quarterfinals. For a third straight season, Olympiakos reached the playoffs without the home-ground advantage. The Piraeus club may have come close to achieving a major feat – it lost 2-1 to the title favorite CSKA – but ultimately missed out on yet another Final Four appearance for a ninth year. Interestingly, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos have the two most expensive players in European basketball, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Arvydas Macijauskas respectively. As for Aris, the Thessaloniki club must have been bitterly disappointed to see weaker teams, such as Fenerbahce, reach the quarterfinals.

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