How BCL helps the growth of Greek Basketball

2019-02-01T16:31:52+00:00 2019-02-07T17:26:25+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

01/Feb/19 16:31

AEK Athens is the defending Basketball Champions League champion. PAOK Thessaloniki and Promitheas Patras have made the playoffs this season. And Greek Basketball is “tasting” the benefits of having these three teams in the competion.

This is the third Basketball Champions League season and  Greek basketball teams not named Olympiacos and Panathinaikos are getting the chance to showcase themselves.

The competition has benefited domestic leagues in multiple ways since it provides a competitive teams with the opportunity to compete on a continental level. And the Greek example is a proof of that.

For Greek Basketball, this hasn’t only helped some historic clubs like BCL defending champion AEK Athens or PAOK Thessaloniki but has given an opportunity to some relatively newly created teams like Promitheas Patras to improve their brand power.

The benefits are numerous not only for the afformentioned clubs but also for Greek basketball in general. The Greek League gains some extra competitiveness since the rest of the teams are fed with motivation to succeed (thus potentially earning a Basketball Champions League spot). Clubs invest in younger players in order to develop their infrastructure and, subsequently, the Greek national team finds an extra pool of talents.

To provide an example of the latter: What do AEK guard Nikos Rogkavopoulos, Promitheas Patras forward Lefteris Mantzoukas, Promitheas guard Chrysostomos Sandramanis and their teammate Rafael Lalaras have in common? They have all played in at least one Basketball Champions League game even if they aren’t 18 years old yet.

There are also the other, more established Greek players. AEK’s sharpshooter Giannoulis Larentzakis, PAOK’s versatile forward Linos Chrysikopoulos and his teammate, guard Antonis Koniaris. Promitheas’ Nikos Gkikas, Christos Saloustros (former teammates of Giannis Antetokounmpo on Filathlitikos) and Leonidas Kaselakis, plus former EuroLeague champion Dimitris Katsivelis who also plays on Promitheas.

Some of those guys were integral members of the Greek national team en route to qualifying to the 2019 World Cup. Don’t be surprised if you see them on Greece’s 12-man squad for the tournament.

In their meantime, their clubs get distinguished on a continental level. AEK won a European trophy last season and has already secured a playoffs ticket now. PAOK and Promitheas are also post season bound.

They have done so while playing two games a week and making journeys away from Greece. They get used to playing in a more competitive rhythm.

The people who invest on the clubs against the odds of the economic crisis are also “rewarded” for their efforts. AEK president Makis Aggelopoulos for example spent time and money in bringing the club out of the ashes and back to the bigger stage, before ultimately winning the Basketball Champions League crown in 2018.

And now, AEK has the chance to compete for another great prize: The Intercontinental trophy during the Final Four that will be held in Rio, Brazil in 15 and 17 of February.

If we take a look on the background of the participation of these three Greek teams in the Basketball Champions League, their qualification to the playoffs and their ambition to go as further as possible in the competition while not being afraid to use young players, we’ll notice the impact on Greek Basketball in general.

Overall, the Basketball Champions League has a multidimensional, direct and long-term positive impact on the sport. It feeds basketball with “healthy” cells at a time it needs an air of rejuvenation.