By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikos Chougkaz will soon return from loan to join Panathinaikos OPAP.
Chougkaz, 21, inked a four-year contract with the Greens last July. He was immediately sent on loan to Ionikos for the 2021-22 season. Captain Ioannis Papapetrou heading for surgery will cut short his second campaign at Ionikos.
In 2018-19, the Athens-born forward turned pro with Panionios. He spent the 2019-20 season at Northwestern State before returning to Greece. Packing 10.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with Ionikos in the previous edition of Stoiximan Basket League led him to the long-term contract with the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague outlet and from there back to Ionikos on loan. He has averaged 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 assists per contest so far this season in the Greek League.
Papapetrou, 27, has been dealing with sinusitis in recent weeks, as recently noted by Dimitris Priftis. He will undergo surgery, added the Panathinaikos play-caller. Him heading to a stint on the list of unavailable players, the Greek giant turns to Chougkaz for additional roster depth moving forward into the 2021-22 season.
The team guided by Priftis ranks next-to-last in EuroLeague carrying a 5-15 record. At the domestic level, the 10-1 W-L tally falls half a game behind Basket League leader Olympiacos.
In the nearest chance to win a domestic title, Panathinaikos has qualified to the Greek Cup Final Four along with Olympiacos and AEK. The fourth spot will be claimed by the winner of the quarterfinal between Promitheas and PAOK mateco. The Final Four is scheduled to be held February 18-20, at Iraklio.