Credit: Olympiacos BC/FIBA Media
Credit Olympiacos BC/FIBA Media

Olympiacos beat Maroussi 93-87 on Wednesday night to take the series 3-0, earning the promotion to the Greek Basket League after spending two years in the second division. Now, it's up to the management to decide what to do, compete in the first division or not.

3-pointers this season

35%
8,8
Points made: 8,8
Accuracy: 34,8%
Place in standings: 12
Record max: 16
Record min: 4
Most made 3FGs: Aleksandr Vezenkov

The club's development team undertook the difficult task of securing one of the two spots that led to the first-tier of Greek basketball and pulled it through. Olympiacos took the hard way in 2019, deciding to forfeit one regular season and one playoff game against Panathinaikos, protesting about how referees were appointed to the games by the Greek Federation.

It all started on February 13, 2019, at the halftime of the Greek Cup semi-final against Panathinaikos at OAKA. After leaving the game at the management's request, with the score at 40-25 for the hosts, Olympiacos issued an announcement asking for non-Greek refs in the derbies and demanding the exclusion of the three officials that conducted the Cup game. 

The final act had the three-time EuroLeague champs forfeit the first league quarter-final game against the "Greens", which ultimately brought about their relegation. In the meanwhile, Olympiacos have made several attempts at talking other teams into implementing some changes to the league's structure and modus operandi, to no avail.

The creation of a development team started right after a self-inflicted relegation but had little to do with Olympiacos getting back to the top league. The first goal was the emergence of players, who would be able to make the first team in the long run, something that has happened in the cases of Pokusevski and Nikolaidis - and to a lesser extent in those of Christidis and Koloveros.

However, it is still uncertain whether the administration of the Piraeus-based team will decide to capitalize on the promotion. Giorgos Bartzokas, head coach of the first team, clearly votes for a return to the domestic championship. Bartzokas has repeatedly stated that the lack of games is detrimental to the team's shape and rhythm, adding that every player wants more games and less practice. The final decision belongs to Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos. The club owners are aware of the negative impact that their choice has had on the squad, which has been playing only in the EuroLeague for the last two years, but they are not eager to take a step back.

The two brothers have been waiting for the Greek federation to proceed with the election of a new board. Still, the frictions between the Greek government and the retiring federation chairman, Giorgos Vassilakopoulos, have pushed the date to September 12. In case the successors of Vassilakopoulos, who has been in charge for nearly 40 years, win the elections or if Olympiacos think that the man himself still manages to keep pulling the strings even in his absence, it is rather unlikely to watch the "Reds" return to the Basket League. 

The 82-year-old executive and former FIBA World vice president (2006-10) is no longer eligible due to the age limit imposed by the government on the presidents of federations and is being considered as the source of all evil in Greek basketball by Olympiacos. Right now, the chances of a Vassilakopoulos-run scheme to win are few and far between.

The deadline for Olympiacos to inform the league of their decision and submit all necessary supporting documents is July 15. However, due to the slight delay caused by the playoffs in the second division, recently promoted clubs could be granted an extension. It is still unclear whether newly promoted clubs reserve the right to refuse to participate in their designated division without any disciplinary measures taken against them.

If Olympiacos decline, the league will turn to Maroussi BC, which came in third in the second division. If no second-tier team responds, Messolonghi BC, which was relegated to the second division two months ago, will hold their position in the Basket League. It goes without saying that both the league - as expressed by other teams, with the exception of eternal rivals Panathinaikos - and the channel that owns the TV rights (ERT, the Greek national television) warmly encourage "Olympiacos to get back to where they belong."

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