Coach Makis Giatras made the short journey to Piraeus to go shopping for a couple of players with plenty of experience in European competitions with center Georgios Bogris and forward Dimitris Agravanis both joining from Olympiacos. The team's other three new signings all originally hail from the United States: shooting guard Chris Babb arrives from Turkish club Bahcesehir, playmaker Robert Lowery was snapped up from Torun in Poland and power forward Chase Fieler joins from Oostende in Belgium.
The starting point guard will probably be Langston Hall, a Greek League All-Star is 2018 who is now heading into his third season with the club after previously representing Bonn and Cibona Zagreb, among others. He will be backed up Dimitris Katsivelis, who made 46 EuroLeague appearances for Olympiacos in the early stages of his career. Combo guard Lowery, who averaged 12.8 points and 6.4 assists in the Polish League last season, can line up alongside either Hall or Katsivelis. Patras will also look for a scoring contribution from Babb, who reached the EuroCup Finals with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in 2018.
Two returning players occupy the small forward position. There is the experienced Oleksandr Lypovyy, who played a handful of EuroCup games during stints with Donetsk and Szolnoki Olaj. He will be spelled by Leonidas Kaselakis. New signings Agravanis and Bogris provide plenty of size around the basket, as does American big man Octavius Ellis – who can also be counted on to add some highlight-reel moments after being named the Greek All-Star Game Slam Dunk Champion earlier this year. Shot-blocking specialist Fieler completes the lineup.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Agravanis gained plenty of EuroLeague experience during his six-year spell with Olympiacos; he made 79 appearances in the competition, including 13 minutes on the floor in the 2017 championship game against Fenerbahce. He is an excellent rebounder and bagged a career-best 5 offensive boards in a Top 16 meeting with CSKA Moscow in 2016. Even though injuries severely restricted his playing time over the last couple of seasons, at the age of 24 Agravanis is a player whose best days should still be ahead of him. If he can stay healthy, expect him to be a major force for Patras.
Patras was way down in the Greek fourth division as recently as 2014, but the club has been on an upward trajectory since then under the astute leadership of Giatras, who was named Greek coach of the year after leading the team to a second-place finish in the Greek League last season. After achieving so much in such a short space of time, Patras should not be daunted by its first EuroCup campaign. A strong start will be crucial to instill a sense of belief that the team belongs at this level. If that happens, the debutant has every chance of progressing into the Top 16.