All set for the big basketball derby

The clash of the Greek basketball titans – champion Panathinaikos and challenger Olympiakos – is just one day away. At the Olympic Sports Hall, Panathinaikos will host the first derby of the season tomorrow at 9.15 p.m., hoping to score the win that will return it to the top of the table and erase the memories of its loss to Panellinios last Sunday for the league. Olympiakos, in turn, has a perfect record of six wins in as many games but often seems to lose some of its steam when traveling north to visit Panathinaikos. Tickets for the match have already sold out, so 18,000 Panathinaikos supporters will be present, as away fans are barred from attending Greek league derbies. Thanassis Giannakopoulos, the brother of the Panathinaikos basketball club president, said after last Wednesday’s cup match, again with Panellinios: «I believe we will beat Olympiakos and catch up with them in the standings.» Olympiakos player Ian Vouyioukas said, «It is high time we beat Panathinaikos away from home and, for that to happen, we must try hard, work properly and be 100 percent focused from the first to the last minute of the game.» Today’s matches for the seventh round of the A1 division are AEK vs Aegaleo, PAOK vs Olympia Larissa, Kolossos Rhodes vs Panellinios, Maroussi vs Panionios and Kavala vs Aris, while tomorrow Larissa greets Trikala. PAOK changes coach PAOK basketball club announced yesterday the hiring of Giorgos Kalafatakis to replace sacked coach Argyris Pedoulakis. PAOK’s president, Dimitris Drosos, suddenly dismissed Pedoulakis on Thursday after a problematic start to the season, despite the considerable amount of money spent over the summer to strengthen the team. Drosos had sacked Pedoulakis last month as well, but then reinstated him a day later. Kalafatakis said yesterday that «if we become the team we want to be, then we will be able to cover the ground we have lost in the league.»