SPORTS

AEK plans to stay at the top

AEK may have made a miraculous comeback against Olympiakos in the recent best-of-five final series for the national basketball title, but the team’s players had to endure intense criticism from disappointed fans while the side looked all but finished after losses in the opening two games. The three consecutive victories which followed gave AEK the title and broke a 32-year drought. In an interview, forward Dimos Dikoudis said his team had not lost its faith, despite its grave position before the rebound. «[Dragan] Sakota [AEK’s coach] was very right in saying that nobody could doubt our entire season’s course. We understood that it was not possible to forget about the basketball you’ve been playing one month after the previous eight months,» said Dikoudis, whose team went into the playoffs as the frontrunner. «We had lots of discussion over the two-day period before the third game in the final series. I spent 10 days locked up at home feeling as if we’d committed suicide as a team. For all of us, it was a time of staring into the mirror and telling ourselves that we will either change our fate or deserve the fate we get. Our survival was a very manly form of self-appraisal,» he added. Despite winning a couple of Greek Cups and a Saporta Cup, AEK, until now, Dikoudis alleged, was not taken entirely seriously by opponents. «Our opponents thought of us as a side capable of winning Greek Cups only, considering that that was as far as our ability went,» Dikoudis said. «But this team has played in four finals over the past two years, was the underdog for three of those, and won all four. But this year’s league, and our reversal of the playoff’s trend, has changed the course of history for the the club,» he added. As title-holder, Dikoudis said, AEK intends to prove a tough opponent for challengers in years to come. «As the champion team, it’s up to us to take this further,» said Dikoudis. «AEK climbed to the top to remain there, not to go astray in the next few years.»