Panathinaikos BC Athens general manager Argyris Pedoulakis referred to the upcoming season and to the fact that many young players make up the squad's Greek core this season.

Credit: E.Blaževičius/
Credit E.Blaževičius/

Panathinaikos BC Athens have officially entered the 2022-23 season hosting their EuroLeague media day, where players and coaching staff had the chance to express their views on the upcoming campaign.

Argyris Pedoulakis, who's currently in his first tenure as the club's general manager, spoke about the new Panathinaikos team that is being built by coach Dejan Radonjic.

"We have created a new team and our goal is to bring health on the court and restore some of the Greek basketball principles to the team," Pedoulakis told the media in attendance.

"I think we had been ignoring those principles in the recent past. We built a team in which non-Greek players are not only able to compete, but also to set an example for our young athletes. 

We have the next new generation of Greek basketball and we are trying to guide these young players through the EuroLeague, so that our foreigners can be  an example for them."

Right now, Panathinaikos have seven non-domestic players on their roster, which means that one of them will have to sit out in Greek league games and local competitions, starting from the Greek Super Cup next weekend. Last year, PAO also had eight non-Greeks at some point. During the summer, team captain Ioannis Papapetrou left the team for Partizan, thus debilitating the Greens' Greek core even more. 

"Our big problem last year was the lack of fighting spirit and this is non-negotiable," Pedoulakis clarified.

"It will be a very difficult season because our young Greek players are lacking experience. We'll get a lot of pounding and tough nights will come," he warned.

"We must have patience, and everyone should keep their heads down and work hard. We are trying to create the framework, to tell them the truth, that we are lagging behind and that you have to work hard to be at the highest level of competition," he continued.

An experienced coach and current executive, Pedoulakis thinks that it's up to the players and the coaching staff to react in case things go south. 

"It depends on us, on how strong we will be after each shock. We tell our fans to have patience, so that the team returns where it's supposed to. It will be a long and difficult road and I want them to judge us with strictness, but at the end of the season," the 58-year-old GM stressed.

Apart from the seven non-domestic players added to the roster, Panathinaikos signed 17-year-old Alexandros Samodurov last season. Neoklis Avdalas is the same age, while Nikos Chougkaz and Lefteris Mantzoukas haven't turned 22 yet.

Panagiotis and Giorgos Kalaitzakis have played some minutes in the EuroCup and the G League respectively, but their experience at the EuroLeague level is scarce. 

"There is an issue in the production of Greek players at the level they should be," Pedoulakis thinks.

"There's no middle ground; athletes climb up the stairs very quickly, and that's why many of them have been lost. They are told from an early age that they belong to the EuroLeague level.

The EuroLeague is a very closed club of players. You have to be very strong physically and mentally."

Talking about Dejan Radonjic, the former PAO player and coach said that he has chosen "a man who works very hard", adding that the club is willing to support that effort.

"He works on the team's principles, and our young guys have to follow either his way or the highway. We will see how players will respond and decisions will be made when the times comes. We are monitoring our shortcomings and trying to fill in the gaps," Pedoulakis pointed out. 

Credit Vangelis Stolis

Although Radonjic recently said that he's scanning the market for another power forward, the Greens will most likely enter the new season with their current roster. 

The Montenegrin coach was asked when Panathinaikos will be ready and couldn't provide a concrete answer.

"We cannot say exactly when," he uttered. "Tomorrow we will finally have all the players at our disposal. Last week, (Giorgos) Papagiannis entered team practices. We go step by step to see where we are. We are a new team.

(Mateusz) Ponitka and (Marius) Grigonis will be with us tomorrow for the first time. We will do whatever it takes and we have to be patient with our plan."

Credit Vangelis Stolis

In the upcoming Greek Super Cup, PAO play hosts Kolosso Rhodes in the semis and the winner of Olympiacos Piraeus-Promitheas Patras clash in the final. 

"Most EuroLeague teams are in the same situation," Radonjic thinks. "We focus on how we will all be together on the floor to give our best both in practices and in the tournament.

This is not a good time to say much, especially about the EuroLeague, but we have to be ready when we have to. I hope that we will be competitive and satisfied at the end of the season," he concluded. 


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