Greek basketball today is grieving the loss of Giorgos Amerikanos, a legendary former player of AEK and of the Greek national team, who passed away on Monday at the age of 71 after a three-year battle against consecutive strokes. Amerikanos was born on December 21, 1942 and started his glorious career as a shooting guard with YMCA Nikaia, before moving to AEK Athens.
A six-time Greek League champion and a two-time leading scorer of that competition, he led the AEK to the first edition of the then European Champions' Cup Final Four, which was held in 1966 in Milan and Bologna, where AEK finished fourth. Two years later Amerikanos, who was a pure shooter and a prolific scorer, bagged 29 points in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against Slavia Prague, making AEK the first Greek team to win a European trophy.
That outdoor game at Kallimarmaro Stadium in central Athens was attended by more than 80,000 fans and was considered for decades to be the world-record crowd for a single basketball game
. "There were 40,000 people outside the stadium, too!" Amerikanos told Euroleague.net in 2007. "It was a sense of awe. When we got out from the dressing room to the court, we were absolutely intoxicated by the heat of the crowd."
Amerikanos played 68 games with the Greek senior's national team, averaging 15.8 points and participated at the 1961 and the 1965 European Championships. He also played for Apollon Patras, Larissa, Egaleo and Pera Tatavla, while as a coach he led AEK to the Greek Cup final in 1978.