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Greek Basket League Odds

Who wins Greek Basket League 2017/2018?

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Greek Basketball League, season 2017/18 – OLY or PAO?

Approaching the end of 2016/17 season, there is only one question unanswered in Greek basketball – which of the two Athens giants will be a champion, Olympiacos or Panathinaikos? Looking at the league’s history, not even recent history, ever since 1991-92 season, at least one of these two teams played in league’s Playoff Finals. And during the same period, only on two occasions (PAOK 1992 and AEK 2002) one of these two teams wasn’t the champion.

The Greek Basketball League has always been ranked among top 3 or top 5 basketball leagues in Europe (currently number 5). It is quite a paradox situation if we know that during this period two teams in the league absolutely dominated the competition.

The interesting thing is that the beginning of Oly/Pao dominance coincides with the league allowing teams to register foreign players for the first time in 1988/89 season. Each team is allowed to have 6 foreign players on roster with at least 6 domestic players. Since then, the wealthiest teams, by bringing top-quality American and European players became dominant, leaving other teams as a development places for their future players.

What to expect

In 2017/18 season, Apollon and Doxa Leafkadas, which have been relegated to A2 league will be replaced Panionios and the winner of A2 playoffs. Olympiakos and Pao, as Euroleague’s A-licence holders, will represent the league in this top-European competition, while, same as last year, Aris, AEK and PAOK will participate in FIBA Champions League.

Looking forward to 2017/18 season, thing will not change a bit. While Greek League has two teams that won combined 6 Euroleague titles in the last 15 seasons, the overall quality of the league has a descending trend. The difference in budget and power between these two teams and the rest of the league is so huge that there are no chances for others to even hope about playing in Playoff finals.

The champion will be…

1. Olympiakos B.C.

Piraeus giant has shown yet again that they are among top 4 European teams. The thing that makes Olympiakos more special is the fact that their game is based mostly around Greek players which has been a culture for a while for them. The team core in Vasilis Spanoulis and Giorgos Printezis is unchanged, with Mantzaris and former NBA player Kostas Papanikolau completing 4 Greek-men lineup. Olympiakos established themselves as defensive force, with string, athletic centers, usually American, that can protect the rim and present great threat from pick&roll with Spanoulis’s great vision and scoring abilities. Olympiakos have relatively young squad, capable of competing on the highest level in coming years.

The biggest concern for them, heading to 2017/18 season will be Vasilis Spanoulis. The man who almost single-handedly won two Euroleague titles for Oly is approaching the last stage of his playing career, and the question will be how effective he can be with time passing by. Spanoulis will be 36 in next season and Olympiakos will have to begin to adjust for life without their leader.

However, considering constant changes and reconstruction in the lines of their biggest rival, Olympiakos is the main candidate for 2017/18 Greek League title holder. The budget and Europe success will make sure that Olympiakos’ roster doesn’t suffer unwanted changes, and ensure that Spanoulis’ drop in production doesn’t take huge effect on their game.

2. Panathinaikos B.C.

Panthainakos is, without any doubt, the most successful basketball club in Europe in 2000’s era. Nine Euroleage final four appearances with four titles in 15 years are the main proof for that. However, they are still in process of recovering from some major changes that affected them in last few years.

First of all, the team is still trying to find the right replacement for Zeljko Obradovic. Obradovic was by far the most successful coach in Panathinaikos history, and although it’s been five years since his departure, it seems that they still haven’t found the sustainable replacement. Arrival of Xavi Pascual is a big step in that direction. Pascual is a coach used to settle in one team for long period of time, and maybe he will be the one who can last long in Athenes.

However, 2017/18 season will be the first for him to be in complete charge of team roster and playing style. Some big adjustments are expected in PAO roster during the summer, and PAO will probably start 2017/18 season with at least 6 new players. It will take some time for Pascual to build chemistry and fluidity in their game, and it’s hard to expect that PAO can compete with Olympiakos’ well-oiled machine for at least one more season.

Others…

As far as the rest of the league is concerned, the biggest question will be which teams will position themselves right behind the two giants.

In last three seasons, PAOK, Aris and AEK established themselves at the level just below PAO and OLY. These teams have been shared 3rd, 4th and 5th spot in standings during the last three campaigns. Historically, these 5 teams are the best the Greek basketball has to offer, and they are expected to be the only ones worth some serious consideration in domestic and Euro competitions next season.

The trend in last few seasons strongly indicated that AEK is the third strongest team in Greek basketball. Since their return in Greek A1 league, after overcoming few seasons of great financial problems, AEK gradually improved, finishing last 3 seasons with 15, 18 and 19 wins in regular season, respectively. The team has good mixture of proven domestic players, and with smart acquisitions of foreigners, AEK will probably lead the group of teams behind PAO and OLY in 2017/18 season.

Aris and PAOK are in slight declining in last couple of years. Their strongest seasons came a few years ago, and their current rosters don’t promise some serious changes in future. Overall, these two teams will complete top5 in Greek Basketball League for 2017/18, and small adjustments and details will determine which of them will have more success.