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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 2 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 JULY 2016 25 SPORT Georgios Papagiannis (R) poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA basketball draft. PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/FRANK FRANKLIN II. Georgios Papagiannis makes history The 18-year-old player became the highest-ever drafted Greek into the NBA NICK METALLINOS Georgios Papagiannis has a lot to live up to, after making history as the highest-ever selected Greek player when he was picked No. 13 overall in last week's NBA draft. "I'm still 18," Papagiannis said. "It doesn't mean it's going to be an excuse for the next year. I'm going to give the best out of me. I'm going to work hard. I'm hungry for the game. I want to say that I'm going to do the best I can to bring a championship to town." Papagiannis, who stands 7’2” tall, as well as the ability to shoot well from a long distance, was originally projected to be a late first-round to early second-round selection. In a shocking first-round, in which 14 international players were taken, Papagiannis became the Cinderella story, jumping all the way into the lottery picks. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but was immediately dealt to the Sacramento Kings, where he will hopefully get to play alongside an- other Greek in Kosta Koufos. "I'm going to go to Sacramento and [to] be teammates with Koufos, being with a Greek guy on the same team, it's different. But we've [also] got Peja [Stojakovic - the team's director of player personnel] who's going to speak Greek to me, too. So it's a great feeling." By his own admission, Papagiannis said he didn't know much about the Kings leading up to the draft. "I met them on the pro day," he said. "I had the pro day like last week. Besides that, I know Vlade Divac. Everybody must know [him]. I'm very excited to be his player. Peja, two great players have played there. And [currently], DeMarcus Cousins, I admire his game so much, and I love that he's going to be my teammate." The last time a Greek player was taken so high was in 2013, when the Milwaukee Bucks took a chance on Giannis Antetokounmpo. "It's a great achievement for the whole of Greece," Papa- giannis reflected post-draft. "I'm very proud of myself, I'm very proud." Papagiannis was on the radar of American scouts when he played high school basketball in Pennsylvania, but decided to forgo his college eligibility to play one year of professional hoops with powerhouse Panathinaikos. The Greek club still holds Papagiannis' rights, but his contract includes an NBA buyout, which is around $500,000 - a drop in the ocean for NBA clubs. The question now being asked is, will Sacramento look to stash him overseas to develop, or will they keep him on their roster? It's unclear where exactly he fits on a roster stacked with big men such as Koufos, DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein, but Papagiannis says that he's ready to play now. "That's up to the team [whether he'll be sent back to Europe]. I want to play in the NBA as soon as possible," he said. FFA announces expanded marquee A-League signings Imagine John Terry and Tim Cahill going head to head, neither giving an inch, in an A-League grand-final. It's a match-up made in TV heaven as it would garner column inches, radio and TV air time. It may be a step closer to realisation following the FFA's decision to allow A-League clubs to sign more marquee players. One of the FFA's strategies to help increase the marketability of the A-League is a plan to increase the number of well-known marquee players who would boost the attendance and viewing figures for the competition. The plan is seen as an important component of trying to negotiate a new TV deal, that would benefit the game in this country, with the current deal due to expire at the end of season 2016-17. In keeping with the strategy of attracting well-known players to A-League clubs, the FFA earlier this week announced a change in ALeague regulations which allows each club to sign a Full Season Guest Player for 2016-2017, effectively allowing clubs to expand the number of marquee signings from the existing two to three players. In addition, the FFA has also announced it will provide financial assistance to A-League clubs to sign a Full Season Guest Player to allow all of the 10 clubs the opportunity to benefit from such a signing, with the proviso being that the player targeted can meet Full Season Guest Player criteria. In making the announcement, FFA CEO David Gallop said: "The Full Season Guest Player opens the door for clubs to attract high-profile players who not only bring talent and exposure to their market but to the entire competition. We believe the creation of this extra marquee position will allow for continued growth in performance but also marketability and visibility. "To satisfy the Full Season Guest Player criteria, players must pass stringent marketability tests to ensure the club is not only signing a quality player who can add to on field performance, but who will become pivotal in the marketing of the A-League. This change to competition regulations opens the door for all clubs to have equal opportunity to take advantage of the Full Season Guest Player spot." Ahead of a new TV broadcasting rights deal, the FFV will be hoping such a decision allows A-League clubs to lure star players who are perhaps nearing the end of their careers, but not quite ready to retire. It's just one part of a plan to increase the attractiveness of the game to broadcasters, along with other aspects currently under consideration such as expanding the competition to increase the number of games in what currently is a relatively short season.
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