Euroleague Preview: Panathinaikos primed for bounce back season
AGONAsport.com’s Peter Katsiris previews Panathinaikos’ EuroLeague campaign as the Trifylli look to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2012…
One of the EuroLeague’s most successful clubs, it has been five years since Panathinaikos have reach the Final Four. Stalled on six EuroLeague titles, Panathinaikos are desperate for EuroLeague glory once again.
A slow start to the regular season saw Panathinaikos string to their consecutive victories to ultimately clinch home court advantage for the play-offs. A visit from a familiar face in Zeljko Obradovic and his new employers Fenerbahce in the play-off round didn’t play out like Panathinaikos had planned.
Despite owning home court for the series, Panathinaikos were ousted in a straight sweep by the Turkish side with two dominant wins in Athens by the eventual champions.
With Xavi Pascual now in his second season as Panathinaikos coach, the Spanish tactician is keen on building on last year’s domestic double with European success. Having steered Barcelona to the title in 2009/2010, Pascual has the experience to steer Panathinaikos the EuroLeague summit for the first time since 2011.
A title triumph might be seen as a longshot as odd makers tip Fenerbahce to repeat as champions, but certainly Panathinaikos are expected to be part of the play-off conversation again this season.
Reinforcements have arrived at the club to fuel the mission of reaching the Final Four, with the likes of Matt Lojeski from Olympiacos and Lukas Lekavicius from Zalgiris Kaunas the most notable arrivals at OAKA.
Perhaps more important than the summer signings, however, will be Panathinaikos’ ability to stay disciplined. It was arguably a lack of discipline that contributed to Panathinaikos’ play-off loss to Fenerbahce, which the Trifylli know they’ll need to resolve those problems in a league as skilled as the EuroLeague.
Regardless of their recent history, however, Panathinaikos are a perennial contender in the EuroLeague and teams will be wary of the threat posed by the Athenian giants at OAKA and on the road.