Panathinaikos in mourning as Pavlos Giannakopoulos passes away

Panathinaikos in mourning as Pavlos Giannakopoulos passes away

Tragedy struck Panathinaikos on Sunday, as long-term basketball club owner Pavlos Giannakopoulos passed away at the age of 89 following a battle with health issues.

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Born in 1929, Giannakopoulos became the head of the VIANEX pharmaceutical organisation, later getting involved with the Panathinaikos organisation in 1971. Eventually, he took full control of the basketball, volleyball and all amateur sports teams between 1987 and 2012 alongside his brothers Kostas and Thanasis. 

Under Pavlos’ leadership, Panathinaikos BC enjoyed huge success, winning six Euroleague titles, 13 Greek championships and nine Greek Cups. In 2012, he handed the reigns to son Dimitris, the fiery 43-year old who owns the Greens to this day.

Sadly, after battling health problems, Pavlos passed away on Sunday morning, leaving Panathinaikos in mourning.

Immediately after the news became known, Panathinaikos BC released a statement: “Panathinaikos Superfoods BC is trying to find the words to say goodbye to Pavlos Giannakopoulos, the man who shaped history for Greek basketball and Greek sports overall. His ideas will stay alive and will forever inspire new generations of Panathinaikos. Pavlos will always live in our hearts.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras issued a tribute to Pavlos with a post on Twitter: “We bid farewell to Pavlos Giannakopoulos. A man, an entrepreneur and sports figure of another kind, he created a successful Panathinaikos BC and leaves a huge hole in Greek sports.”

From Spain, Barcelona offered their condolences to the Giannakopoulos on social media: “Barcelona regrets the loss of Pavlos Giannakopoulos and sends a very strong hug to the entire Panathinaikos BC family.” Panathinaikos FC, PAOK, Olympiacos, AEK, the Super League and many well-known Greek personalities also shared their sorrow in press-releases.

Ahead of playing Olympiacos in game three of the Basket League finals, Panathinaikos’ star point-guard Nick Calathes spoke to Cosmote TV about Pavlos’ death: “It’s a sad day for us. Pavlos Giannakopoulos received joy from being involved in basketball and everyone knows the Giannakopoulos family’s involvement in Panathinaikos. We will fight on the court to honour his memory.”

Current Panathinaikos BC head coach Xavi Pascual had a similar message: “We should all extend our condolences to the Giannakopoulos family. We know that Pavlos is a huge part of Panathinaikos’ history. Today, we have extra motivation to win.”

Pavlos’ death comes just one month after that of his brother Kostas. 

by Shaun Nicolaides
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