A heartfelt interview with the Angelopoulos brothers…

May 13, 2012 and even more, the second day of June of 2012 are two historical moments for Olympiacos and Greek basketball. For Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos though, they are all the more important for bringing along a huge vindication for the efforts they have been making in the last years.

May 13, 2012 and even more, the second day of June of 2012 are two historical moments for Olympiacos and Greek basketball. For Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos though, they are all the more important for bringing along a huge vindication for the efforts they have been making in the last years.


The Olympiacos bosses talked after the end of the fifth final on the emotions they were experiencing just a few minutes after the team became the Greek Champion of 2012…

The first comments…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: I would like to congratulate the players, the coaches, all those working for Olympiacos. Tonight’s success after 15 years that we had not won a championship is of historical proportions, it’s a historical day. We first became the European Champions and we are now the Greek Champions. We had never thought of that, that this would be in that order, but it’s very sweet and unprecedented.

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: The darkest hours come before dawn. The sun has risen. We are the Greek and European Champions. When we said we would be, we believed it. Some laughed at us. It was after the lost cup final. When we were exchanging announcements. The administration was issuing statements, the team kept practicing. Always together, the team and the administration, we succeeded in our goals. We believed in it, the sun has come up and I believe we are experiencing something unique, something that has never happened before in the history of European basketball and I don’t think it’s going to happen again. It’s not just the budget, it’s how this team started out, what happened in the summer, what happened during the previous years we were with Olympiacos. I remember when Panagiotis had gone to the coach’s house for the first time, I was in the States at the time, and the coach told him that we were heroes having to deal with everything that was happening. What followed after summer gives another dimension and a different meaning to the two titles we won. It has been a team hugely, intensely doubted by a large percentage of the Media, maybe even in extremis and made us think and we were living in another planet. We were reading incredible stuff, incredulous analysis, everything was deemed to be a failure, everything deemed to be wrong and we are not only talking about this season but also about the past. It needs strength to cope when you are under, not when you fail, but when for some reason, things are going the wrong way. I’m stunned by Siskauskas’ decision to quit basketball when still with one more contract year to go. A great athlete, with immense experience and he decides to quit basketball. For me, it’s an incredible decision. It’s also very hard to stand tall with what has happened with Olympiacos in the last couple of years. Just like what happened with Barcelona’s football. They lost two games. On Saturday and Tuesday and the coach is leaving, the team is changing, it can be for better or for worse, but the team is changing. The pressure on the coaches, the players and all the rest are immense. Nor you can answer to every post, you simply read them and maybe, you persist even more.

We have read incredulous things written by respected reporters, we read that this team would not even qualify for the TOP-16 and their articles contained valid analysis. Many people were asking if we believed in this team. We did. We have talked for hours and hours with the coach, always in good faith, always aiming to solve all the problems. Our goal has been the championship, but at some point, the possibility for the European trophy became obvious. The team believed in it. We have talked with the players in the locker rooms. It’s another thing what we let to be known and another thing what is really happening. This year, whatever happened in the Olympiacos locker rooms, simply stayed there. A lot of things have happened, many discussions, really intense moments, with love, with support, a lot has happened and nothing has aired. They are young kids, maybe we had been stricter than we should have at moments, what was done was done; we are a family and solved our problems in that fashion. I would like to congratulate the coach, all the technical staff, Mr. Angelou, Mr. Kesar, Christos Marmarinos, Milan Tomic, all the team, all the players, our captain Vassilis Spanoulis who has been scrutinized a lot. Congratulations to the whole team. This championship first of all belongs to the all the Olympiacos fans, those who shed tears that day and we wish to thank them all.

On announcing leaving the club…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: The statement left no margin because there was no margin to leave. We had meant it 100%, we had meant it 1000% and that’s why there had been tears at the time. But that was it and there could be no more. We had tried everything. Olympiacos was not left without leadership after that. We met with the coach right after our statement, after two or three days and we told him we should try for a transitional season, maybe the coach misunderstood this a little bit, what we meant by transitional. In Greece, everything is transitional. We were going week by week, with continuous talks and meeting, so that Olympiacos could build a competitive team until a solution came up. No serious investor came to show interest in the team. It was a continuous process. There has not been a day when we said something changes nor that the tremendous investment, financially and time consuming, and that was failing due to non-sporting reasons, was changing. There had been huge amounts of money invested. Now it seems that it was a mistake to invest in players and coaches. But we cannot change that now.

On whether Dusan Ivkovic is the best coach there is…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: Panagiotis had said during presenting Mr. Ivkovic before his first term with the team that we had brought the best coach in Europe. We believed that and it is now obvious.

On their future with Olympiacos…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: We are not talking about the future tonight; we are going to listen to Vertis singing…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: We are neither planning dynasties nor empires. We live in the moment and we are going to celebrate some more because there is more celebrating to be done.

On whether negative critic made them persevere even more…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: We did not persevere due to reporters, what made us stick to our plan is in our statement with names and addresses.

On the behavior of the Olympiacos fans in the finals…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: The fans were almost impeccable in all three games just like they were in Istanbul. I wish to remind you of a historical Euroleague decision, on the punishment of Panathinaikos and the 15,000 euro fine on us. What is interesting and you can find it is the reasoning of the two decisions based on the fans and their behavior.

On what this season taught them…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: This season’s team had young guys hungry for titles, something that probably wasn’t present in our previous teams, or maybe they did not carry the pressure of the favorite put on the 2010 team but I will never forget is the Paris final.

On whether they think that the feeling of injustice present in previous years has diminished lately…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: Injustice is even greater, there have been statements, and there have been unbelievable events. We are still looking for a Las Palmas hotel. We are on the look ourselves.

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: I’m going to find a vacation package in Las Palmas for both Manos Papadopoulos and Zavlanos to send them. They couldn’t find hotels to book for the refs but they still send them away just as not to be here.

On when they thought that they could make the top this season…

GIORGOS ANGELOPOULOS: The critical game had been the one against Galatasaray in Piraeus.

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: Before we beat Galatasaray, we had been talking and thinking about Istanbul. Solemnly and in secret.

On whether they became wiser after this season…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: Facing this project with modesty, humility and patience, which we may have had faith in, but there had been a lot of unlucky moments, the coach had said that the team was going to be ready in January and this is what actually happened. Also, what the coach had said about competition and ergo metrical preparation, seeing Olympiacos start the fourth quarter with so much energy is something I haven’t seen in any Olympiacos team in the last years and I think this had been our greatest weapon against Siena, in the Final Four and the finals. I don’t think there is any other European team starting the fourth quarter better than Olympiacos does.  

On the help the fans gave to the team…

PANAGIOTIS ANGELOPOULOS: Spending the winter with an average of 3,500 fans in the stands is a reality, not bitterness. It’s logical for the fans to have been disappointed, we ourselves were disappointed and announced quitting. It may have upset us, but the fans cannot pack a gym when they see that have tried with all possible ways, spending millions of euro, building huge teams. And this season, they saw this team coming together and they came close as well. But we are not bitter with the fans. That’s how the Olympiacos fans are, we love them as are.


It was the end of the '30s when the Olympiacos Basketball team was founded with players form the "Ionidio" School. Great personalities of Greek basketball wore the 'red' shirt, coaches wrote history, victories came and Olympiacos played a leading role inside and outside the Greek borders.
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