This is a story about the never-ending rivalry between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. If you thought that it stops during the summer months and resumes again in October when the A1 league starts, you're wrong. When the teams are not playing, they're being built. The transfer season is where the battle moves from the court to the media and press.
Lefteris Bochoridis(1.96-PG/SG) is the next chapter of this rivalry, or if you prefer the battle of bragging rights. Bochoridis is undoubtedly one of the best prospects of Greek basketball at his age. The only thing that's holding him back at the moment is his age and subsequently lack of experience in the big leagues. He's got the talent, the skill and the bodytype to play against the best of them and most of all he's got an abundance of audacity. Even before he turned 18 he got some minutes against Olympiakos (during the strike of season 2011-2012) and he stepped into the court without a shred of fear and gave the fans of Aris a glimpse of things to come in the future.
Now he's duking it out in Esthonia as part of the U-20 National Team of Greece as the team's main point-guard. His last game of 24 points against Turkey in conjuction with the recent Papanikolaou saga and some older rumors about Panathinaikos set in motion a whirlwind of rumors and wishful thinking that could turn into something more solid. Aris BC are in financial trouble due to the criminal negligence(among other things) of previous president I. Damianidis and Bochoridis could be their next sale.
One thing to mention here is that the current administration of Aris are appointed by a court appointed and their views of running the team are diametrically opposite to that of the previous administration that sold Kostas Papanikolaou to Olympiakos for 950,000 euros and still managed to produce a negative balance sheet for Aris BC. Prasini(Green) newspaper (owned by the owner of Panathinaikos) put Lefteris Bochoridis in today's frontpage saying that Panathinaikos are preparing an offer for Aris. The facts here are that Bochoridis is bound for more 3 more seasons with a contract that does not contain a buy-out clause. The timing of this "announcement" is side by side with the possible sale of Kostas Papanikolaou to Barcelona for 1.5 million euros.
This puts effectively Bochoridis in the middle as the prize for the 2 money-throwers of the Greek league but noone could say what is his current value. Articles of the last few days implicate the player's agent who seems to have offered Bochoridis to Olympiakos but Nick Lotsos and Panathinaikos are not currently on the best of terms. Furthermore any offer made to Aris would need to be substantially favorable to Aris before they release their best prospect. The current philosophy of Aris resembles that of Partizan, building the team young players and only selling them when the time is right. The reality of the debts and their long payment periods have sunk in with the administration of Aris and they've compromised with their situation.
According to information of the Hoop, the administration of Aris would not consider any offer less than a million euros for Bochoridis, either thar or accompanied by players of Panathinaikos or Olympiakos as a tranfer. They're adamant that players on-loan from the 2 Athenian clubs would defect the object and hence are considered unacceptable. Nor is the prospect of Bochoridis signing with Panathinaikos for example and playing for Aris on-loan for 1 or 2 seasons. The fans are not happy with the prospect of yet another sale of a player that is of Euroleague title calibre and if there is going to be a sale it better be a damn good one. Unconfirmed rumors say that the administration of Aris are thinking of starting high at 4 million euros which might sound unfeasible but it will drop anyway. It's a good starting point as any though.
So what happens now? Everything or nothing.. many things will depend on Bochoridis' performance in the U20 European championship and then it depends on which team will actually make an official offer to buy the player. Panathinaikos acquired Pappas and Jankovic recently but Bochoridis and would like more Greek players to be added to their roster which is what Olympiakos did.
This evening Greece crashed, burned and fizzled against a much more disciplined Spain and their dreams about a medal have evaporated into thin air. Bochoridis' stock though has not diminished. There are now rumors that a team outside Greece is looking into investing in him, one of Euroleague level (update : it so happens to be according to Greek journalist Vassilis Vlahopoulos, Olimpia Milano could be putting through an offer next week). Greece will play more games in the Esthonia for places 5 to 8 in the final leaderboard and Bochoridis will have more chances to showcase his talent and perhaps raise his own stock in the market.
Bochoridis is the next big prize of the 2 financially dominant teams of Greece, a battle of prestige, bragging rights and the perpetual struggle to sign all the good Greek players so that the hated rival don't get their hands on them. The next chapter begins when the first offer is made..
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