Club profile: PAOK Thessaloniki

Sep 16, 2013 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Club profile: PAOK Thessaloniki
PAOKOne of the storied clubs in Greek basketball history, PAOK Thessaloniki and its legions of basketball-mad fans are back in the Eurocup and eager for a great season. PAOK started as a sports club in Thessaloniki in 1926 and opened its basketball section two years later. The first run was short-lived, but after World War II, PAOK turned to basketball again and the rest is history. The club claimed its first Greek League title in 1959, but its glory years did not come until the 1980s. PAOK reached the Greek Cup final in 1982 and was second in the 1983 Greek League behind archrival Aris. In 1984, PAOK took revenge by downing Aris for its first Greek Cup title. Scoring machine Bane Prelevic joined PAOK in 1988 and took the team to a new level. In 1991, Prelevic led PAOK to the Saporta Cup title by downing CAI Zaragoza 76-72 in the final played in Geneva, Switzerland. PAOK conquered its second Greek League in 1992 and got back to the Saporta Cup final, but a buzzer-beating jumper by Ricky Brown gave Real Madrid a 63-65 win and the trophy. PAOK earned the right to play in the 1992-93 Euroleague and battled its way to the Final Four in Athens. Benetton stood in the way and edged PAOK 77-79 in the semifinal. Prelevic, Walter Berry and Zoran Savic led PAOK Thessaloniki to the 1994 Korac Cup trophy by sweeping Stefanel Trieste in the two-game final. That season, PAOK returned to the Greek League finals, though it lost to Olympiacos amid controversy. PAOK added Greek Cups in 1995 and 1999 and reached the Greek League finals again in 1998 and 2000. The club moved to PAOK Sports Arena in 2000, but Prelevic retired soon after that and, despite appearing in the 2000-01 Euroleague, PAOK has not competed for any titles since then. Led by Matt Nielsen, PAOK reached the ULEB Cup quarterfinals in 2004-05 before losing against eventual champion Lietuvos Rytas. In 2010-11, PAOK had its last Eurocup appearance but could only finish last in its regular season group with a 1-5 record. Last season however, the team regrouped and reached the Greek League quarterfinals, earning a spot in this edition of the Eurocup. PAOK Thessaloniki has put together a roster with experience and youth in order to better its last particpation in the competition, aiming for a berth in the second phase and, of course, look further than that.