The Euroleague 2023/24 season kicks into action with round 1 of games under way. Our preview and prediction focus for Friday is the Greek derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos
It’s the derby of eternal enemies as Ergin Ataman leads Panathinaikos against Olympiacos in their first battle of the new Euroleague season.
Who: Panathiaikos (0-0) vs Olympiacos (0-0)
Where: Oaka, Athens
When: 6 October at 21.15 Athens/19.15 London/14.15 New York
It’s really hard to look beyond the clash of Kostas Sloukas (Panathinaikos) and Thomas Walkup (Olympiacos). Sloukas enjoyed two very successful spells with the Reds but, in free agency, he moved to the Greens. Walkup has been a reliable and highly talented player for a while now. In the summer, wearing the Greece jersey for the first time, he showed an extra degree of swagger.
The less headline grabbing but probably more important clash is with the big men. Nikola Militunov (Olympiacos) brings his mix of subtle movement and near stationary force up against the defensive joy of Mathias Lessort (Panathinaikos). This is genuinely a fun clash.
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Need to know
Those who read our season previews will know that we expect these two sides to see a lot of each other this season. Ergin Ataman arrived this summer after his most successful coaching stint of his career. Having guided Anadolu Efes to a pair of Euroleague titles, Panathinaikos fans expect big things from him.
Georgios Bartzokas by contrast has a restructured Olympiacos side that has some interesting aspects to it. While losing two big names in Sloukas and Sasha Vezenkov, the players he have brought in come dripping in reliability.
What the bookies think
This one is all but a pick’em with the sportsbooks. Panathinaikos are priced at 10/11 while Olympiacos are 24/23 in basketball betting. Just like my Euroleague previews, the oddsmakers are struggling to separate them. The other number to note is the over/under of 153 points. The point spread has Panathinaikos as 1 point favourites.
What we think
These two teams can play offensively aggressive basketball including against each other. That said, I don’t expect them to do so this time. If any, of the likely many, derbies between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos this season promises to be a slugfest it’s this one.
Expect a great deal of defensively focused basketball in this game. Don’t be shocked if this is a very low scoring affair altogether.
As you can probably guess, I’m a lot more confident in my call for the points total than the winner. In a defensive battle, a lot will favour Olympiacos but I’m not picking against Ergin Ataman in his opening Euroleague game with a roaring Oaka behind him.
Pick: Panathinaikos to win and cover, the UNDER on the points total of 153.