SPORTS

The Lithuanian option

Jonas Kazlauskas will be Greece’s new national basketball team coach. The Lithuanian is the Greek federation’s choice to succeed Panayiotis Yiannakis in the post and is expected in Athens by Thursday to sign a two- or three-year contract. He will then be officially presented by the federation. It is not yet clear whether he will be hired on a full- or part-time basis. Kazlauskas had confirmed on Sunday that the head of FIBA Europe and member of the Greek federation, Giorgos Vassilakopoulos had visited him and submitted an official offer for the 55-year-old to coach Greece. The former coach of Olympiakos and of the national teams of Lithuania and China admitted that he had also had an offer to coach his country’s side once again, but he is leaning toward taking over at Greece. Asked about his target with the Greek national team, he said: «It is too early to talk about targets. We have to arrange certain details first.» Late last night the federation held a special dinner for national team players in which it was to name Kazlauskas as their new coach. Interestingly, one of the players invited was former skipper Michalis Kakiouzis, who had been sidelined by Yiannakis. He is therefore very likely to return to the national team. The former assistant of Kazlauskas at Olympiakos, Yiannis Sferopoulos, now the coach of Kolossos Rhodes, will also assist the Lithuanian with the national team. Stavros Elliniadis will likely be the new general manager, being the link between the federation and Kazlauskas. Meanwhile Olympiakos was last night close to sealing a deal with US point-guard Jannero Pargo of Dynamo Moscow. The American had agreed with Olympiakos a few days ago but the Reds were still negotiating with the Russian club, rushing to make today’s deadline for the submission of team rosters to the Euroleague. Olympiakos needs Pargo to replace Josh Childress, who underwent surgery earlier this month. While Aris has added a British player, Andrew Betts, to its roster, PAOK focused on cutting expenses by surprisingly ridding itself of the contracts of Bosnian Damir Mulaomerovic and Greek Costas Vassiliadis.