Archive | March, 2012

Ex-Maroussi stars enjoying life abroad

20 Mar

Update on ex-Maroussi players:

Let’s start in Turkey. Frank Elegar scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds in Antalya‘s 92-82 upset victory over league leader Galatasaray on Saturday. He also had three blocks and three steals. In five games since leaving Maroussi, Elegar is averaging 10.8 ppg and 7 rpg. The Drexel alum’s teammates include Scottie Reynolds (30 ppg) and Corey Fisher (25 ppg), both of Villanova. Elegar is connecting on 75 percent of his shots from the field.

Yannis Gagaloudis

Moving southward to Cyprus, Yannis Gagaloudis‘s new team, Apollon Limassol, faces a must-win game tonight. The team is in the Cypriot League playoffs and down 2 games to 1 against Etha. Gagaloudis is averaging 20.5 points in the four games with available box scores (he also played in two other games). The veteran point guard scored 30 points in his debut on the island. Apollon won its first-round playoff series 2-0 over ENAD. Hmm, I wonder if his team gets bounced from the playoffs if he would be eligible to return to Maroussi (no idea what the contract issues/rules are). My guess is neither side would be interested because there are only two games left in Maroussi’s season.

In Italy, Nestoras Kommatos hasn’t had to worry about being his team’s top scorer. That’s Troy Bell‘s job. The Boston College alum is averaging 23 points per game. In three games for second-division Sant’Antimo, Kommatos is scoring 11 ppg and pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game. The 34-year-old was the Greek league’s top scorer (20 ppg). The Italian club recruited Kommatos to add some front court scoring in a bid to avoid relegation. He experienced his first victory Sunday (he left Maroussi when the team was still winless) against Biancoblu, 87-76.

Finally to France, where Dimitris Haritopoulos plays for ASVEL, the club that is partly owned by NBA star Tony Parker. The San Antonio Spurs guard played for ASVEL during the NBA lockout last autumn. In six games, Haritopoulos is averaging 7.5 points and 3 rebounds per game.

Aris 90, Maroussi 69

17 Mar

Hmm. Looking for interesting things to write about this one. Aris defeated Maroussi 90-69. It was close in the first half, then Aris pulled away. Eh. Six Aris players scored in double figures. OK. And four in double figures for Maroussi (1-21). Blah.

Well, I did notice that Aris coach Vangelis Alexandris went ballistic several times. That’s kind of a trend here, where many coaches receive Messiah-like respect from fan bases and media. Alexandris coached Maroussi to its Saporta Cup (now called Eurocup) victory in 2001.

But still, it’s frustrating to see coaches lose their cool and yank a player off the court for daring to be just a little bit creative. Be a robot or you sit. For example, Sergio Kerusch had the ball and backed his defender toward the basket. He made a nice turn into the lane, went up and missed the shot. Ok, he should have sank it. But it was a good move. And apparently it wasn’t in the script. Alexandris immediately yanked him.

Discipline and team play are important. But when players are literally looking over their shoulders after every play to see if they’ll be benched or yelled at, it stifles the creativity coaches pray for when their teams are losing by 12 points in the fourth quarter to Panathinaikos or Olympiakos. Just sayin’.

Ok, so back to the game. Aris led 44-39 at the half. Prodromos Nikolaidis scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first half for Maroussi. But the Thessaloniki crew clamped down defensively in the third quarter, and Dan Mavraides hit a couple of 3-pointers to give Aris some space. Princeton alum Mavraides had all 10 of his points in the second half.

Christos Tapoutos led Aris with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Ronald Davis chipped in with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Aris connected on 10 of 20 3-point attempts. Sam Muldrow (South Carolina) had 7 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.

For Maroussi, Giannis Demertzis recorded 11 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. Seventeen-year-old center Lampros Tsontzos scored 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Andreas Kanonidis contributed 11 points off the bench, including two 3-pointers that kept Maroussi fairly close in the second half.

Aris (10-12) has won four consecutive games.

Preview: Stretch run for Maroussi

16 Mar

Maroussi wins Saporta Cup (now Eurocup) 2001

So, Maroussi has three more opportunities to get another victory before being relegated to a lower division next season. Since its historic win over Peristeri two weeks ago, Maroussi lost to Panathinaikos and Colossus, but they basically amounted to preparation for the final three games (against sub-.500 clubs).

And may I suggest Maroussi (1-20), which hosts Aris (9-12) tomorrow evening, learned quite a bit in the losses. First, young Dimitrios Agravanis is emerging as a legitimate offensive threat. The 6-foot-10 teenager — he turned 17 in December — averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds per game. Second, poor 3-point shooting is killing them.

Maroussi went 8 of 46 from 3-point range the past two games. That’s 17 percent. Prodromos Nikolaidis is their go-to guy from downtown but he’s just 3 of 17 in the two losses. The problem is, with Nestoras Kommatos and three other starters gone, teams key on Nikolaidis. Still, he led Maroussi with 22 points (7 of 11 inside the arc) against Colossus on Wednesday.

Aris would make the playoffs if the season ended today and is riding a three-game winning streak. Christos Tapoutos is the team’s leading scorer (14.8 ppg, 6 rpg). Ronald Davis, an alum of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, averages 10 points per game.

Aris has young scorers, as well. Sergio Kerusch (Western Kentucky) averages 7.5 ppg and 4 rpg, while Sam Muldrow (South Carolina) is at 6.5 ppg and 5 rpg. Princeton’s Dan Mavraides has been getting more minutes lately, too. Kerusch scored 24 points in a 79-71 victory over Maroussi on Jan. 4.

St. Patrick’s Day ‘All Irish’ Irish All Stars

15 Mar

Marty Conlon

I have serious business to discuss: the inaugural Kings of Maroussi “All Irish” Irish All Star team in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Before I do that, I want to get something off my chest. The “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is an offensive nickname. We’re not belligerent people. So the next guy who tries to defend the nickname in my presence is getting a punch in the face.

The only “rule” to my Irish All Stars is they must have a connection to Maroussi. Let’s start with the front court. I was prepared to spend long days digging through dusty files at Maroussi team headquarters looking for some evidence of Irishmen. But then my mom said “Look on the Internet, ya eejit.”

Thanks Ma! Turns out two celebrated Irishmen played for Maroussi during the 2001-02 season. None other than Pat Burke and Marty Conlon. Yes, the same Mahhty Conl’n who played for the Boston Celtics (1996-97). The Celts went 15-67 that year. Irregahdless.

Burke averaged 14 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Maroussi. The following year, he joined the Orlando Magic, becoming the first Irish-born player to play in the NBA (wiping tears from eyes as I write). He later played for the Phoenix Suns (2005-07). The 6-foot-11 center grew up in the United States.

The Bronx-born Conlon averaged 11 ppg and 6 rpg as Burke’s teammate in Maroussi, which made it to the Greek Cup final that season. The 6-foot-10 power forward came to Greece after playing nine seasons (that’s a lot) in the NBA. Both Conlon and Burke have captained the Irish National Team.

Let’s round out the front court with Patrick Fitzgerald O’Bryant Jr. The 7-footer played for the Celtics (2008-09), too. (Coulda’ben mayah with that friggin name!) The Maroussi connection? O’Bryant played in Greece this season for Kavala, which signed would-be Maroussi forward Travis Garrison after FIBA slapped a ban on Maroussi signing international transfers. Garrison was in Athens when the ban came down. For further Irish-O’Bryant reading, see this 2008 story from the Worcester T&G.

Technically, that’s two centers and a power forward, but who cares.

Ok, the back court is a little tricker. After an exhaustive analysis (Google search) to find an Irish connection to Zack Wright — O’Wright? — I came up empty. Ditto Dionte (Mc)Christmas and Nick “Seamus” Calathes. Marcus (O’)Hatten? Nope.

No worries. Bryan Mullins will handle the point guard duties. The pride of Southern Illinois University worked out for Celtics and the Chicago Bulls after the 2009 NBA draft. He now plays in France and has played for the Irish National team.

Jermaine Turner (photo: Scoring Factory)

Finally, did you think I’d forget Jermaine Turner? He averages 23 points and 18 rebounds per game for Killester in the Irish league. He grew up in NYC but married an Irish woman. They have two daughters and live in Ireland, where he also coaches.

Mullins and Turner know where Greece is on a map — lots of Americans don’t — so they get a waiver to join the team.

Billy Donovan will serve as player-coach. His tailored suit actually has a zipper down the side, and he’ll wear his uniform underneath. He will sink a bunch of 3-pointers, just like during his playing days at Providence College, where he was Conlon’s teammate for one season.

Erin Go Bragh!

Colossus 86, Maroussi 62

14 Mar

No surprises here — Colossus (15-6) took care of business against young Maroussi, which had two 17-year-olds in the starting lineup. The home team opened with a 12-2 run and controlled the game throughout. The final score was 86-62.

It was one-win Maroussi’s 20th loss on the season. Their final three games are against opponents with records under .500, so they have at least a shot at another victory. Since defeating Peristeri, they’ve lost to Panathinaikos (19-2) and now Colossus.

Maroussi might want to strongly consider eliminating the 3-point shot from its offensive repertoire. They connected on just 3 of 21 attempts. That’s after going 5 of 25 last week. Meanwhile, they shot 54 percent inside the arc.

Prodromos Nikolaidis led Maroussi with 22 points. Usually a 3-point specialist, he sank just one of seven tries, but was 7 of 11 inside the 3-point line. He also had 4 steals but committed 8 turnovers. Lefteris Akepsimaidis added 16 points in the loss.

Maroussi had just 7 first-half rebounds and scored only 9 points in the second quarter. Colossus led 47-26 at the half.

Steve Panos led Colossus with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half. The Weber State alum was 6 of 6 from the field. Scotty Hopson finished with 14 points and 3 rebounds. Ruben Boykin chipped in with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Marcus Hatten added 5 points.

Dimitrios Agravanis turned in another strong performance for Maroussi. The 17-year-old center recorded 9 points and 9 rebounds, just short of a double-double. He also had two blocks. He started and played 35 minutes. Agravanis was coming off a 15-point game against Panathinaikos.

Fellow teenager Lampros Tsontzos got into early foul trouble. He finished with 2 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block. Andreas Kanonidis had eight rebounds off the bench.

Preview: Maroussi goes island hopping

13 Mar

Marcus Hatten ( photo)

Maroussi plays Colossus tomorrow on the island of Rhodes. Strictly business. Coach Nikos Linardos ignored my team-bonding idea of shell collecting at the beach. There’s “no time” for that, apparently. The team is scheduled to board a morning flight tomorrow, play at 4 p.m. local time, then return to Athens later in the evening. Normally, a team would arrive the night before and sleep at a hotel. But cash-strapped Maroussi can’t afford it.

Awaiting young Maroussi (1-19) is Colossus (14-6), which has lost three of its last four games but wants to maintain its third-place spot going into the playoffs. With four games remaining, it’s not going catch Olympiakos (20-1) or Panathinaikos (18-2) but Rethymno and Panionios, both 13-7, are close behind. If the season ended now, Colossus would open the playoffs against Kavala (11-10).

The top four finishers in the playoffs qualify for European championships; the top two teams play in the elite Euroleague while the other two go to the qualifying round of the next-best tournament, the Eurocup.

Marcus “Mo” Hatten and fellow guard Angelos Tsamis are the top scorers, averaging 12.4 ppg. Hatten played briefly with the Denver Nuggets in the 2004-05 season. The Baltimore native was undrafted in 2003 out of St. John’s, where he was coached by Mike Jarvis (of the great city of Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Scotty Hopson averages 9 points and 3 rebounds per game. The 22-year-old left Tennessee one year ago, after his junior year. Hopson, a gifted shooting guard with highlight-reel finishing ability, was not drafted. This is his first stint overseas. Another USA American, Ruben Boykin, is averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Last week, Maroussi took a beating, as expected, from Panathinaikos. But the takeaway? Backup center Dimitrios Agravanis finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Agravanis and fellow 17-year-old center Lampros Tsontzos have been gaining valuable experience since four of five Maroussi starters left the financially troubled team earlier this year.

To stay competitive, however, Maroussi’s shooting needs to improve. It’s been deplorable recently. They hit 5 of 25 three-point attempts last week, and went 11 of 39 inside the arc.

Panathinaikos wins; Maroussi teen scores 15 points (Videos)

7 Mar

Dimitrios Agravanis

This was a slightly more interesting game than I expected. For the record, Panathinaikos easily defeated Maroussi, 96-56, in a game that was pretty much over in the first quarter.

But no one was playing for today. Panathinaikos (18-2) was tuning up for Saturday’s Greek Cup final against bitter rival Olympiakos — think Celtics and Lakers, but add hooligans. Maroussi (1-19) was gaining experience in hopes of pulling off another victory this season.

For Maroussi, backup center Dimitrios Agravanis had a breakout game. He came off the bench and led Maroussi with 15 points and 7 rebounds. He was 3 of 11 from the field but sank 9 of 11 free throws. Not bad for a kid who turned 17 years old in December.

Fellow 17-year-old Lampros Tsontzos picked up his third foul just seven minutes into the first quarter, forcing Agravanis to eat up more minutes. He was aggressive on the offensive end (see video), which helped him get to the foul line.

Panathinaikos, the defending Euroleague champion, wasn’t going easy on Maroussi, pressing guards Lefteris Akepsimaidis and Giannis Demertzis the whole game.

In case anyone thought Panathinaikos wasn’t taking the game seriously, coach Zeljko Obradovic cleared things up just 39 seconds into the first quarter when he benched guard Nick Calathes. The 23-year-old had decided to ad-lib for a split second instead of methodically running the offense. Tsontzos stole the ball from Calathes at the foul line as he tried to drive.

Obradovic gave Calathes a talking to before the Florida alum sat on the bench. He returned after the first quarter, and led the team with 13 points. He also recorded 4 assists and 4 steals.

Obradovic, a Serb who is considered one of the greatest European coaches ever, also gave the business to Alexis Kiritsis after a turnover. He wasn’t pleased by much of anything (see video), even as the Greens shot 60 percent from the field and out-rebounded Maroussi 55 to 23.

Aleks Maric, 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, had 9 points and 11 rebounds for Panathinaikos. Kostas Kaimakoglou, who played for Maroussi from 2004 to 2010, scored 8 points and added 5 rebounds. Sarunas Jasikevicius chipped in with 12 points.

Maroussi connected on just 5 of 25 3-point attempts and shot 28 percent inside the arc. Three-point specialist Prodromos Nikolaidis was 2 of 10 from downtown.




Preview: Panathinaikos pays a visit

6 Mar

Vagel Sakellariou

Maroussi didn’t have much time to celebrate its first victory of the season. It hosts Panathinaikos (17-2) tomorrow evening. Normally, it’s an NFL-style schedule, one game each week. But there are no league games this Saturday because of the Greek Cup final — between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos.

Panathinaikos is one of the best teams in Europe, not just Greece. It is the defending Euroleague champion. Basically, tomorrow’s game is a more or less a practice session for the big game Saturday.

So, what does that mean for Maroussi? If they can hang with Panathinaikos for a half, maybe even three quarters, that would be a huge accomplishment. Maroussi, of course, has a depleted roster, which includes several teenagers. Starting center Lampros Tsontzos is 17 years old.

Panathinaikos, historically one of the wealthiest clubs in Europe, has a ridiculously deep bench. Mike Batiste, Ian Vougioukas, and Stratos Perperoglou are unlikely to play because of injuries.

But it’s hardly a break for Maroussi. That means Aleks Maric will get more time in the middle. He’s 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, and Maroussi doesn’t have the size nor experience to handle big men. Maric is an Australian-Serb and alum of the University of Nebraska.

It will be a homecoming for Kostas Kaimakoglou, who played for Maroussi during the good old days (2004-10). He scored 18 points Saturday in a 85-65 victory over PAOK.

We’ll see how much time the Panathinaikos regulars get, considering the Greek Cup final on Saturday.

Their roster is sprinkled with former NBA draft picks, some of whom have played in the NBA. Sarunas Jasikevicius, 36, played for the Indiana Pacers and Golden State WarriorsSteven Smith of La Salle played briefly for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Nick Calathes, 23, left the University of Florida after the 2008-09 season and signed a three-year deal with Panathinaikos. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected him in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft. Romain Sato was taken in the second round of the 2004 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, who released the Xavier alum in 2005.

Maroussi coach eyes another win (Videos)

5 Mar

Maroussi coach Nikos Linardos is a realist. His squad suffered through an 18-game losing streak before breaking into the win column Saturday over Peristeri. So he wasn’t chest-thumping when he suggested Maroussi can win again this season.

“We have a chance to win one or two more games,” said Linardos, who has kept in touch with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski whom he met years ago while studying in the United States.

Linardos, who played on the Greek national team in the late 1980s, wasn’t naming names regarding which team on the schedule is beatable. Safe to say he wasn’t thinking Panathinaikos (17-2), which visits Maroussi on Wednesday afternoon.

After Panathinaikos, Maroussi visits Kolossus (14-5) on the island of Rhodes. The final three games are against teams with losing records, though still in the playoff hunt: home to Aris; at Drama; home to Ikaros.

Maroussi’s 58-52 victory over Peristeri wasn’t pretty. Maroussi failed to score during an 8 1/2-minute span in the second half while Peristeri played catch-up.

Newcomer Andreas Kanonidis (14 points, 9 rebounds) played another strong game. The 20-year-old sank three 3-pointers (see video). Vagel Sakellariou was a spark plug off the bench. He scored 8 points (see video) but each basket gave Maroussi extra momentum.



Game of Week: Christmas leads team to road victory (Videos)

4 Mar

Dionte Christmas

This was just downright fun. Fourth quarter lead changes. Emphatic dunks. Clutch 3-pointers. Hostile crowd. In a possible playoff preview, Rethymno defeated Panionios 77-76 in Athens tonight.

Dionte Christmas paced the visitors from Crete with 19 points, including a steal and dunk (see video) that gave his team a 75-73 lead with 56 seconds remaining. Billy Keys (9 points) answered for Panionios before Rethymno’s Brent Petway was fouled and sank two clutch free throws with 17 seconds on the clock.

Up 77-75, Rethymno decided to foul Alex Stepheson — as they had done all night, with considerable vigor — and gambled that he’d miss a free throw. He was 8 of 14 from the line before he was fouled with 5.5 seconds left. The gamble paid off. The USC alum missed the first shot and hit the second. Panionios got the ball back with 3 seconds left but Marios Batis‘ half court shot missed.

Christmas, the league’s top scorer (19.5 ppg), also hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video below) going into halftime.

Jon Diebler led Panionios with 16 points and 6 rebounds. The league’s top 3-point shooter hit 3 of 6 from downtown, including two in the fourth quarter. His fast-break layup gave Panionios a 68-67 lead with just over 3 minutes to play.

Petway (8 points, 6 rebounds) saved his best for last. His putback two-handed dunk gave Rethymno a 56-49 lead to end the third quarter. He flirted with a technical, though, when he stared into the crowd after landing. He connected for two more hoops in the fourth quarter, followed by the two free throws. He played nearly the entire fourth quarter with 4 fouls.

Zack Wright also scored 19 points for Rethymno and pulled down 8 rebounds. He had four turnovers, one leading to the Diebler layup, but created many opportunities for his teammates. And he had a memorable steal. Laying belly up on the floor (after a missed shot and no call), he reached and poked the ball away from a Panionios player, directly to Christmas, who laid it in.

Wright’s penetration also freed up shooters including Damir Latovic, who sank some big outside shots (video below). Latovic finished with 18 points (three 3-pointers) and 6 rebounds.

Stepheson, who recently returned to the lineup after a knee injury, finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds.

Panionios (13-7) and Rethymno (12-7) are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the standings. Rethymno has won four in a row. Panionios has lost its last two games, and three of its last four.




Coach: Victory for players, family

4 Mar

Nikos Linardos

Maroussi coach Nikos Linardos dedicated his team’s 58-52 road victory over Peristeri to his players and family.

“It’s a very nice feeling, especially for the kids, for the assistant coaches, the trainers and my family,” he said after the post-game press conference.

At 1-18, once-proud Maroussi is sure to be relegated to a lower division next season. Ownership simply stopped paying bills. Former players are still owed money. Four veterans, frustrated by late paychecks, recently left the team. It’s a sad fall for a team that spent the past decade competing with league powerhouses Panathinaikos and Olympiakos.

Giannis Demertzis, a Maroussi guard, said: “We play just for us now.”

Peristeri coach Argiris Pedoulakis said Maroussi deserved the victory because they fought harder. He said Maroussi’s young players are seizing their opportunities to showcase their skills, and that Peristeri’s youngsters should learn from the example.

Like Maroussi, Peristeri has serious financial problems and has seen top players depart, although it still has American import Gavin Edwards and Greek scorer Charalampos Giannopoulos.

Coaches and players around the league understand Maroussi’s situation. They’ve credited Linardos and the players for fighting through the troubles this season.

Last night, Greek league leading scorer Dionte Christmas took note of Maroussi’s big win. The Temple alum plays for Rethymno, which defeated Maroussi 92-80 last week.

Christmas tweeted a shout-out “to Maroussi finally getting their first win of the season. I knew they would get 1.”

Victory at last: Maroussi wins 58-52 (Videos)

3 Mar

Maroussi ended its four-month-long losing streak tonight by defeating Peristeri 58-52, earning its first win in a season marked by financial troubles and departures of star players.

Players pumped their fists and embraced coach Nikos Linardos when the final buzzer sounded in Peristeri’s unheated, sparsely filled arena. This was the type of game Maroussi (1-18) typically loses. They scored just 9 points in the fourth quarter.

“You have to fight,” said Linardos, who is getting the most out of a young lineup that includes a 17-year-old center. “You have to fight like we did tonight. It was our night.”

Maroussi led 49-35 with 2:30 remaining in the third but failed to score for the next 8 1/2 minutes. Peristeri scored 11 points in that span punctuated by a dunk-and-foul three-point-play by Gavin Edwards, before 20-year-old Andreas Kanonidis sank two free throws with just over 4 minutes left, giving Maroussi a 51-46 lead.

Maroussi managed just two field goals in the fourth quarter, and they were vital. Giannis Demertzis (9 points) drove past his defender and laid the ball in, putting Maroussi up 53-47 at the 2-minute mark. Peristeri’s Charalampos Giannopoulos (11 points, 6 rebounds) responded to make it 53-49. Lefteris Akepsimaidis (11 points) then drove, pulled up for a shot but passed to an open Kanonidis for an easy lay-in, giving Maroussi a 55-49 lead (see video) with just over a minute left.

Giannopoulos nailed a quick 3-pointer but on its next possession, and within three points, Christos Marinos was whistled for a charge with 25 seconds remaining. Akepsimaidis was fouled and sank one of two free throws, making it a two-possession game, 56-52. Giannopoulos missed a 3-point attempt and Prodromos Nikolaidis finished the scoring with two free throws.

“The truth is we played very good in a lot of games but we didn’t win,” Demertzis said. “We were waiting for this victory. We believed in ourselves.”

Maroussi has called up amateur players from its junior team to fill roster spots left vacant by veteran starters who left the cash-strapped team. Nestoras Kommatos (Italy) was the league’s leading scorer and Yannis Gagaloudis (Cyprus) was tops in assists. Big men Frank Elegar (Turkey) and Dimitris Haritopoulos (France) also departed.

A win is a win, but this one was ugly. Peristeri was just 3 of 24 on 3-point attempts, compared to Maroussi’s 7 of 28. Maroussi shot just 37 percent inside the arc.

Nikolaidis led Maroussi with 16 points (four 3-pointers). He also had four steals. Kanonidis, playing his second game for Maroussi, finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Edwards, a 6-foot-10 Connecticut alum, had a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds). He had eight points in the first quarter. It looked like the game plan was to feed Edwards in the paint and get young Lampros Tsontzos in foul trouble. Giannopoulos even passed up short jumpers and forced a few passes inside. He didn’t find a scoring rhythm until much later.

Tsontzos didn’t score but had three blocks and three rebounds. Fellow teen-aged center Dimitrios Agravanis contributed a late steal and block.



Preview: This one ‘winnable’ (sort of)

2 Mar

Maroussi players celebrating in 2001

In 2007, when the Boston Celtics lost 18 consecutive games, they saw Milwaukee on the schedule, followed by a tough road trip. The Celtics beat the Bucks 117-97 and Paul Pierce said: “We definitely eyed this game.”

Peristeri is Maroussi’s Milwaukee. Peristeri is on a four-game losing streak and is 6-12 overall after starting the season 5-2. Like Maroussi, Peristeri is having financial problems. Three of its top players left the squad. Sound familiar?

Maroussi (0-18) visits its crosstown rival tomorrow night, hosts Panathinaikos (16-2) next week, followed by a trip to Rhodes to face Kolossus (13-5). Maroussi then finishes its season against three clubs in playoff contention.

Maroussi is winless but this is really only Game 2 for the reconfigured squad, playing without four veteran starters who left for greener pastures (i.e. steady paychecks). Their 17-year-old center, Lampros Tsontzos, played 32 minutes last week.

Meanwhile, the flu made its way through the lineup early this week, limiting coach Nikos Linardos‘ ability to prepare the black-and-yellow.

Still, this one is winnable. First, Peristeri doesn’t have a wide-body center the likes of Zisis Sarikopoulos, the muscular 7-footer for Panionios who scored 17 points (8 of 10) in 14 minutes against Maroussi two weeks ago. Peristeri’s Sotirios Manolopoulos, despite his size (6-foot-10), prefers launching 3-pointers (8 of 28 past four games) to grinding in the paint.

Peristeri has been out-rebounded in all four games of its current losing streak. Maroussi, despite losing last week, pulled down 30 rebounds to Rethymno’s 28.

Peristeri’s top scorer Charalampos Giannopoulos (12 ppg) can do a little of everything. The 22-year-old had a career game five weeks ago in an 81-69 victory. He scored 32 points (6 of 7 from 3-point range). He’s slowed down during the current skid. In the past two weeks, he’s 0 for 7 from downtown.

Connecticut alum Gavin Edwards (9.5 ppg, 5 rpg) is connecting on 64 percent of his shots. Giannopoulos and Edwards, 24, are capable of getting the the foul line if their jumpers aren’t falling.

Realistically, though, Maroussi will need continued stellar play from its back court of Lefteris Akepsimaidis (18 points, 7 assists last week) and Giannis Demertzis (16 points, 6 assists). And they’ll need help from newcomer Andreas Kanonidis, (15 points, 5 rebounds last week) and Vagel Sakellariou (15 points).


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