Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fun times for Aris.. not

The team of Aris was defeated by the team of Paok last Saturday with a margin of 35 points. The final score was 83-48. The rivalry between Aris and Paok is equivalent to that of Barcelona and Real Madrid or to that between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos.Things are not looking good for Aris..

As one might understand the fans of Aris were gutted whereas the fans of Paok were singing on cloud nine. It's understandable that a defeat of these proportions, at the hands of a hated rival cannot be taken lightly.
Especially when it comes so soon after another humiliating defeat, against Maroussi, for the qualifying rounds of the Euroleague with a similar margin. Fans of Aris gathered outside the Alexandrion Melathron arena that has been the home of Aris for decades and started heated arguments with the players and the coaching staff.

Noone would want to be in the shoes of Fotis Katsikaris who had to witness one of the most humiliating defeats of his career. He probably wasn't expecting that after a decent performance against Olympiakos last weekend. Much to this mess, is contributed to the composition of the team during the off-season and the preparation (or lack thereof..) done by coach Andrea Mazzon. The administration of Aris left Mazzon in charge of the team after being beaten at the very last 5 minutes of the Greek League play-offs in May (by Maroussi) and hence losing a  potentially secure place in the Euroleague groups. Aris received the wild card but made no use of it whatsoever losing the battle against Maroussi one more time. Rumors said that Mazzon was allowed to stay was because in case he would be fired, he would request his entire year's salary as compensation. surely if this were true one might say that it was a display of seriously poor judgement. After the disgraceful defeat against of Maroussi for the Euroleague qualifying rounds, Greek media reported that he would settle at 40% of his contract.

The fans of Aris would think that by selling Papanikolaou to Olympiakos the money would be invested into creating a strong roster for the years to come. Instead the administration of Aris decided to spend the money on expensive Greek players close to their retirement age. The same players are now under scrutiny because of their lack of performance and passion displayed within the 4 lines of the court. Latest rumors according to Greek media speak of Keydren Clark and Michalis Kakiouzis being potential candidates for dismissal. Clark for being exceptionally bad at scoring and Kakiouzis taking the flak instead of Dikoudis who is comfortably injured..

Currently the fans of Aris are split in 2 major sides. On one side you have the organised fans of club Super3, who pledge blind devotion to president Ioannis Damianidis and on the other side you have everyone else who would very much like to see him to step down and let someone else try. The people on "other side" clearly think that he has failed in making the team stronger and is instead leading the team to be alienated from their fans. In your average European team most administrators would have stepped down.

NBA veteran Juan Dixon arrived on Sunday and was announced by Aris as an attempt to turn things around. Even with this ray of hope, changes are the worst is yet to come. Aris are playing against Panathinaikos in the next game of the A1 Greek League and the fans are dreading that night. It's worth mentioning here that Panathinaikos are responsible for the biggest loss at home for Aris in season 2006-2007, where they lost 60-96, with Andrea Mazzon as the head coach.

The team seems to be in shambles and the morale has hit an all-time low. Another humiliating defeat might be too hard to handle and might rock the boat for the administration harder than they would it to. In Aris they have to declare which player between Quinton Day and Jeremy Richardson will be replaced and what will become of their contracts. Day seems to be the likeliest candidate to be replaced and given his low contract (close to 50,000 USD) he might only play in the Eurocup, where there is no limitation of import players.

Some of the fans of Aris a few weeks ago were thinking of fun times in the Euroleague at this point in time. Instead, some of their worst nightmares about the fate of their team are slowly, but steadily, becoming true. One  humiliation at a time.

Fun times for Aris? Certainly not..

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