Big money in basketball

While Olympiakos is chasing the big signing from the NBA to strengthen its basketball team, champion Panathinaikos announced yesterday the surprise transfer of US guard Drew Nicholas. The former Efes Pilsen forward has excelled in the Euroleague in the last few seasons and is set to help the Greens’ scoring in the new season. In the 2005-2006 period, he won the Alfonso Ford award for having the highest scoring average (20.4 per game) when playing for Benetton Treviso. Panathinaikos also announced the acquisition of Antonis Fotsis, while Olympiakos made official that of Theodoris Papaloukas. Yet the Reds are now out to get the Toronto Raptors’ big star, Anthony Parker, offering the 33-year-old up to $21 million, according to reports. His signing would make Olympiakos one of the most expensive teams ever in European basketball. The officials of the Piraeus club have contacted the Canadian franchise and are expecting an answer, but this may take some time as the NBA team is waiting to see what will come of the draft process for them. Also yesterday the president of the third Greek club in the coming season’s Euroleague, Panionios, presented its new coach, Serb Aleksandar Trifunovic. Taking over from fellow countryman Nenad Markovic, who last season led the Nea Smyrni club to the Euroleague, Trifunovic said his objectives are clear for the new season. «As far as I am concerned, becoming a mainstay in the Euroleague is a significant objective, yet what is more important is the league and this is what we will focus on,» he said. «I have got experience of the Euroleague from my previous club,» said the former Lietuvos Rytas coach, «but it is an honor for me to take over at Panionios, a club with great history. I had better financial offers, but that is not all that counts.» Trifunovic added that the club will do its best to fill its gaps but expects to keep hold of Vassilis Xanthopoulos and Dusan Sakota who are on loan to Panionios from Panathinaikos. «We will create a team able to match any opponent. I cannot give you the names of players as things change all the time. For instance, we wanted a player priced at $300,000, but he eventually he took a contract of $1 million in Russia,» Trifunovic said.