Panathinaikos Athens has announced the signing of Olek Balcerowski on a two-year deal, with the Greens having paid his buyout clause to lure him away from Dreamland Gran Canaria. Balcerowski (2.15 meters, 22 years old) became a BKT EuroCup champion with Gran Canaria last season, averaging 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and a 10.6 PIR in 22 games, 16 of which were as a starter. The two-time winner of the EuroCup Rising Star award (2021, 2023) briefly played in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with Gran Canaria in the 2018-19 season, featuring in six games, but he now returns to the competition with the aim of making his mark at Panathinaikos.
Panathinaikos adds size with Olek Balcerowski
Honing his trade in the EuroCup
Before Balcerowski made his EuroLeague debut, he played very, very limited minutes in two EuroCup fixtures in the 2017-18 campaign. Since returning to the EuroCup in the 2020-21 season, though, Balcerowski has gone from strength to strength. Coming off the bench, he helped guide Gran Canaria to a semifinal finish in 2020-21 against AS Monaco, having improved his averages at each stage of the campaign: in the regular season, the top 16, the quarterfinals and then the semifinals. As such, he was rewarded for his play with his first Rising Star award.
An injury meant that Balcerowski did not play until Round 14 in the 2021-22 regular season, but he hit the ground running after his return, posting 9.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and a 7.2 PIR in the team's five remaining fixtures before the playoffs. That year, Gran Canaria made it to the quarterfinals, with the Polish international's final averages standing at 8.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and a 6.4 PIR. Then, last season, Balcerowski shined as a starter – albeit sharing minutes once again with Khalifa Diop – as Gran Canaria went on to win its first-ever EuroCup title.
A star for Poland
At the international level, Balcerowski didn’t take long to establish himself as a player for Poland. The 22-year-old was part of the Poland team that finished in eighth place at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where he was the youngest player competing. Over eight games, he averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds. Three years later, at EuroBasket 2022, Balcerowski showed that he had taken a big step forward in his development by posting 10.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists as Poland made it to the semifinals.