Basketball’s A1 league descends into farce

Never before has Greek basketball witnessed scenes such as those of last weekend, with players going on strike and staging sit-ins on basketball courts and police intervening to remove them. The strike by the Panhellenic Association of Professional Basketball Players (PSAK) saw the opening round of the A1 league turn into a farce, with several Greek players striking and the games being played mostly by foreign and amateur Greek hoopsters. PSAK is calling for social security for the A2 division players and better club guarantees for contracts and salaries. The worst incident occurred yesterday at the Elliniko court, before the game between AEK and Ikaros Kallitheas was due to start. A number of Greek players from various teams gathered in the center of the court and sat on chairs to prevent the game from starting. More than 20 riot police officers came in and rounded the players up before pushing them off the court. Several hoopsters alleged that they had been hit by police officers during the incident. PAOK’s Greek players were also pushed off the court by police following similar protest action before the Thessaloniki team’s game at Panathinaikos on Saturday. PSAK president Lazaros Papadopoulos announced he is quitting his club, PAOK, suggesting he does not want to play basketball with chains around his neck. Olympiakos beat Aris 78-65 in Thessaloniki in the round’s most important match, but did so using all its players, while Aris did not use any Greek professionals. Olympiakos’s Yiannis Bourousis then resigned from his position as vice president of PSAK. Panathinaikos thrashed PAOK’s five non-Greek players 108-61 as Kavala beat Ilisiakos 99-71. Yesterday AEK defeated Ikaros 81-72 and Kolossos downed Peristeri 67-58. Iraklis edged out visiting Panellinios 82-81 in overtime, in a game that was interrupted for about an hour due to crowd trouble.

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