By Stefanos Tatsios / [email protected]
The 2021-22 season unfolded in the best way possible for Greek guard/forward Panagiotis Kalaitzakis, who took on a starring role in Lietkabelis, leading his team to the Lithuanian League Finals and the 7DAYS EuroCup playoffs.
Kalaitzakis, 23, is making the most of his offseason and trains at the Eurohoops Dome with his coach and trainer, and spoke to Eurohoops about the 2021-22 season, the interest of Greek archrivals Panathinaikos and Olympiacos in him, as well as the reasons why he’s not focused on taking a leap to the NBA soon.
“It was a historic season,” Kalaitzakis tells Eurohoops. “We played in two finals, in the Cup and the championship and we reached the EuroCup playoffs playing against the champions, Virtus Bologna. Besides basketball, I was happy with my teammates, I had fun, and we were a family”.
Kalaitzakis won the LKL Breakthrough honor in 2022, which was the result of his hard work last summer. “As far as I’m concerned, I worked a lot last summer. The team and the coach believed in me and gave me more confidence. I believed and I still believe in my abilities and the season unfolded in the best way possible,” he says.
“When you reach one goal you look into the next one. You’re happy for a while. The next day you have to wake up and train again. You have to take it day by day. I don’t think I’ve reached the peak of my career yet, I’m still 23, and I haven’t even done half of the things I want to do. I’m on a good path, I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had”.
Lietkabelis managed to defeat long-term LKL champions Zalgiris in the semifinals but lost the Finals to Rytas Vilnius, which returned to the top of the Lithuanian League for the first time since 2009-10. “It ended with a bitter feeling after we lost 4-1 to Rytas,” Kalaitzakis commented.
During the season, the 23-year-old received interest from Panathinaikos, though he decided it would be best to finish the season with Lietkabelis.
“The interest of Panathinaikos is a dream for every Greek player that’s starting to evolve,” he explains. “I liked the way the season rolled out with Lietkabelis and I didn’t want to leave the team, the coaches, and my teammates to return to Greece. I will be honest, of course, I thought about it, for several days, but I discussed it with my family, my brother, and my coach and I believe it was the best possible choice at that time to remain in Lietkabelis”.
As for his next steps, Kalaitzakis didn’t rule out a return to Greece, with both Panathinaikos and Olympiacos highly interested in acquiring him. “I feel more than ready to take the next step. It’s a great honor that the two biggest Greek teams [Panathinaikos and Olympiacos] have shown interest in me. From that point on, it’s an important offseason for me, I will examine the options and will do the best for me and my family”.
Kalaitzakis is focused on improving himself in Europe and joining the top level soon, so he explains that the NBA is not a priority to him at the moment.
“For sure I dream of playing with my brother Giorgos in the NBA, but we can play together on the national team or another team, at this moment the NBA is not on my radar,” he says. “It’s in the back of my head. For sure at some point, I’d like to try myself there, I’m beyond happy that my brother has achieved so many things there with the Bucks and the Thunder”.
The post Panagiotis Kalaitzakis examining his options which include a return to Greece appeared first on Eurohoops.