AGONA Profile: Argyris Pedoulakis, the coach who can’t stay away from Panathinaikos
Early this week, Argyris Pedoulakis was appointed as the new head coach of Panathinaikos BC, replacing Rick Pitino at the helm. The AGONA Profile analyses his career.
This isn’t the situation which Panathinaikos originally wanted. After receiving the role of head coach in December, American Hall of Famer Rick Pitino got Panathinaikos back on track, with the Athenians qualifying for the playoffs of the EuroLeague, claiming the Greek Cup and winning the Basket League. However, upon the conclusion of the season, Pitino revealed that he wouldn’t be returning to Athens, and Panathinaikos were forced into swiftly hiring a replacement.
Argyris Pedoulakis, who represented Panathinaikos as a player and previously coached the club in two seperate spells, was the obvious choice for the job. This season, Pedoulakis had impressed as manager of newly promoted Peristeri BC, qualifying for the semi-finals of the Basket League where the club lost to Panathinaikos.
Pedoulakis, 55, penned a two-year deal with Panathinaikos. In the past, Pedoulakis has been named the Best Coach of the Basket League in 2001, 2003 and 2013.
Pedoulakis played as a professional basketballer between 1983 and 1995. During his playing career, Pedoulakis was only on the books of Peristeri and Panathinaikos, spending six years with the latter from 1986 to 1992. He also represented the Greek national team on a regular basis.
COACHING START WITH PERISTERI
Pedoulakis immediately turned his hand to coaching when he called it a day on the court. In 1995, Pedoulakis began serving as an assistant to the well-known Dragan Sakota in Peristeri, and he was promoted to the position of head coach two years later.
It didn’t take long for Pedoulakis to start building a reputation for himself. In the 2000/2001 campaign, Peristeri finished in a respectable third spot of the domestic championship, while reaching the Last 16 of the EuroLeague. Pedoulakis once again steered Peristeri to third place in 2003, and in that same season, the organisation qualified for the semi-finals of the FIBA Europe Champions Cup.
ULEB CUP FINALIST WITH MAKEDONIKOS, FIRST MOVE TO PANATHINAIKOS
Pedoulakis moved to Makedonikos in 2004 after his success with Peristeri. In the end, he only stayed with Makedonikos for the one season, but he historically took the club to the final of the ULEB Cup. In the showpiece game against Lietuvos Rytas, Makedonikos held their own and kept the score close, but the Lithuanian opponents ran out 78-74 winners. This was the only year when Makedonikos competed in a European final.
Following his stint at Makedonikos, Pedoulakis went on to coach Panellinos, Rethymno, PAOK, AEK and Peristeri (again), before penning a contract with Panathinaikos in June 2012.
Pedoulakis had huge shoes to fill at Panathinaikos. The legendary Zeljko Obradovic, who won five EuroLeague championships for the Greens in his incredible 13-year tenure, had just stepped down, in turn leaving Panathinaikos in a transitional phase.
Nevertheless, Panathinaikos hired the right man to replace Obradovic. In the ensuing 2012/2013 season, Pedoulakis kept Panathinaikos at the top of the Greek game, winning the cup and the Basket League. The perfect way to re-introduce yourself to the passionate Panathinaikos faithful.
In the following season, Pedoulakis won the Greek Cup for Panathinaikos, but he left the organisation in the summer and penned a contract with UNICS Kazan of Russia.
DISAPPOINTING PANATHINAIKOS RETURN
Pedoulakis returned to Panathinaikos in April 2016 after Dusko Ivanovic had left. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for Pedoulakis on this occasion, as Panathinaikos came up short in the Basket League final against Olympiacos. A final which will always be remembered for Vassilis Spanoulis’ stunning three-point attempt at the OAKA Indoor Hall.
Pedoulakis resigned from Panathinaikos in October of that year after a crushing 63-88 loss to Olympiacos in the EuroLeague.
NEW GOALS AT PANATHINAIKOS
Panathinaikos’ goal for the 2019/2020 season is clear: qualification for the Final Four of the EuroLeague. In the off-season, the Panathinaikos roster will be revamped with the likes of James Gist and Keith Langford set to leave, and Pedoulakis will be fully expected to maintain the Trifylli’s winning traditions in Greece while finally making progress in Europe. Panathinaikos haven’t qualified for the EuroLeague since 2012.