Panagiotis Kalaitzakis addressed Panathinaikos' inability to stay in playoff contention, his tough transition from the EuroCup to the EuroLeague, and the changes that coach Christos Serelis has brought to the team.

Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

Panathinaikos Athens experienced another upset in a year full of bad results, this time by ALBA Berlin, who forced the Greens to their 9th loss at OAKA (84-88).

Player of the Game
Luke  Sikma
Luke Sikma
Points 6
Accuracy 1-2
Rebounds 4
Assists 4

Now, the Greens are 16th in the standings with a 11-22 balance that can get even worse since they'll be traveling to Belgrade to face Partizan Mozzart Bet next week.

After the match against the German champs, Panagiotis Kalaitzakis took stock of how the season turned out for him and his team, while referring to the demands that PAO need to meet and the urge for the six-time EuroLeague champs to win the domestic title in order to make up for a disappointing campaign. 

"This isn't the right time to say what's wrong and what's not. We have changed players and coach. Many will say that the team was not built properly, and others will argue that we had a better roster than last year," the Greek forward told NOVASPORTS.

"At the end of the day, based on results, it's a season where we expected to be in the playoffs," he admitted.

"We are Panathinaikos, and our fans are used to us having success - make the playoffs every year and the Final Four in the years before that," Kalaitzakis pointed out. 

In his maiden EuroLeague season, following a promising stint with Lietkabelis Panevezys in Lithuania and the EuroCup, the 24-year-old forward came across a new situation.

Kalaitzakis is nearing the finish of his rookie EuroLeague year, averaging 8.0 minutes, 2.2 points, 1.1 rebounds and 2.0 in PIR over 24 games. Conversely, he had 13.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 12.5 in PIR over 19 EuroCup contests last season.

"Going from EuroCup to EuroLeague, believe me, is tough. The EuroLeague is at a different level," he admitted.

Points this season

Points made: 79,2
Accuracy: 44,6%
Place in standings: 12
Record max: 98
Record min: 64
Best scorer: Dwayne Bacon

"At first, it was a bit difficult. Then, you adapt, you understand your teammates and the scouting. Now I feel much better, I am more demanding of myself. I'm not going to lie - I could have helped more when there were injuries, but I wasn't ready," Kalaitzakis continued.

"I knew it was going to be difficult. I spoke with a lot of friends and I watched a lot of Euroleague games. it's a very competitive league. Certainly, my role this year is very different. My job was to come off the bench and give energy," the Greek player explained.

At the same time, even though he did get to play in the LKL finals with Lietkabelis last season, Kalaitzakis experienced -for the first time in his career- the pressure of having to win almost every game. That's something he hadn't been accustomed to when playing with Cholargos in Greece or Nevezis in Lithuania.

"Playing at a club like Panathinaikos has pressure, games are must-win, and you have to give everything in every game and practice," Kalaitzakis emphasized.

"Especially with our new coach [Christos Serelis], practices have become more intense. We wanted to do something good this season, but came up short," he conceded. 

Nate Wolters and Mateusz Ponitika were unable to help Panathinaikos in the ALBA game due to injuries. Kalaitzakis thinks that from the moment PAO's EuroLeague season is officially over next week, the team will have plenty of time for practice ahead of the Greek playoffs. 

"We still have a goal to achieve," he said.

"I hope we'll concentrate on that because foreign players are 8-9 months away from their families. As we see, every day there are changes for the better thanks to Mr. [Dimitris] Giannakopoulos and that's encouraging," Kalaitzakis concluded. 

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Panathinaikos Athens
ALBA Berlin
Field goals

Best players

Dwayne  Bacon
16 PTS
6/14 FG
3/4 FT
Jaleen  Smith
14 PTS
4/10 FG
2/3 FT
Georgios  Papagiannis
Yannick  Wetzell
Panathinaikos Athens
Few players
3 As
Jaleen  Smith
5 As
1 TO
25 MIN
Georgios  Papagiannis
16 EFF
67% 2P%
100% 3P%
Luke  Sikma
16 EFF
50% 2P%
- 3P%