Olympiacos Piraeus returned to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four last season for the first time in five years, and it has its sights set on at least replicating that feat in the upcoming campaign. The majority of the Olympiacos squad has been kept together, but the loss of Tyler Dorsey is a blow for head coach Georgios Bartzokas. Nevertheless, the Reds still have the likes of Kostas Sloukas, Sasha Vezenkov and Moustapha Fall, as well as having brought in Isaiah Canaan, Alec Peters and Joel Bolomboy, among others. With its passionate crowd at Peace and Friendship Stadium, there is a lot of excitement about how Coach Bartzokas's team will do in 2022-23.
Roster rundown: Olympiacos Piraeus
Ever since he returned to the club in 2020, Kostas Sloukas has been Olympiacos's go-to player on offense. The 32-year-old, who won two EuroLeague titles with the Reds in his first stint with the team before adding another to his collection with Fenerbahce Istanbul, is expected to once again have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders in the 2022-23 season. Elsewhere on the roster, Olympiacos is still able to call upon Thomas Walkup and Shaquielle McKissic, who both bring defensive solidity to the roster in addition to being able to score the basket. In terms of new arrivals, Isaiah Canaan has been brought in to replace Tyler Dorsey at the point guard position, while George Papas is set to play a backup role in his first year in Europe. Coach Bartzokas also has Zayd Muosa, Michalis Lountzis and Giannoulis Larentzakis available to him.
Sasha Vezenkov took his game to another level last season and was rewarded for his efforts, earning a place in the All-EuroLeague First Team. Now that it has been confirmed that he will be staying at Olympiacos for the upcoming campaign, he will be looking to take another step again en route to potentially helping the Reds lift its first EuroLeague title since 2013. Joining Vezenkov in the forward position is the experienced Kostas Papanikolaou, in addition to new signings Joel Bolomboy and Tarik Black. Then, at center, Moustapha Fall is there to protect the paint and make life difficult for the opposition team's big men. Rounding out Olympiacos's frontcourt, youngster Sotirios Oikonomopoulos will be hoping to get some minutes on the court during the coming season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Much of Olympiacos's success will come down to Kostas Sloukas and the way in which he leads the team on the court. Sloukas is known for stepping up in the clutch moments, as he showed last season with a buzzer-beater against Anadolu Efes Istanbul and a game-winning basket with two seconds remaining against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Olympiacos ended the 2021-22 regular season with the second-best record in the EuroLeague, and then in the playoffs it advanced past AS Monaco before losing out to eventual champions Efes in the semifinals. Without Sloukas, it is hard to think that the Reds would have been as dangerous as it was, and that is likely to be the case once again in 2022-23.
For Coach Bartzokas and Olympiacos, the hope will be that continuity is the key to achieving success. While many other teams have strengthened during the off-season and made notable changes to their rosters, Olympiacos has kept its core together, aside from Dorsey. Canaan is expected to come straight into the starting five, but there is still going to be a similar cast to last year, with Sloukas, Vezenkov, Walkup, McKissic, Papanikolaou and Fall all still involved. As a result, the Reds will hope that it has an advantage over some teams that may spend the first half of the season getting acclimatized to one another. Time will tell if this method bears fruit.