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The Palau Blaugrana crowd will be able to enjoy one of Europe’s best players over the last three years. Kostas Papanikolaou (Trikala, 1990) has the ability to do many things on a basketball court and do them very well. He is a complete player, who can make the difference in defence, attack or on the interior or exterior.
His qualities have helped him grow as a player over the last two years – which have included two consecutive Euroleagues with Olympiakos. He played a key part in the 2012 win over CSKA and ended with 18 points and a global valuation of 22 points. In this year’s final in London against Real Madrid, he played a less central role, although his defensive solidity proved key to the Greek team’s fight back.
Plenty of ability
Although he is only 23, Papanikolaou has already won plenty – two Greek Cups, a Greek League and two Euroleagues - a fair reflection of his ability in both attack and defence. Although he’s not a physically imposing player – his innate abilities make him an expert at blocks and rebounds.
His competitive attitude has helped him establish himself as a leading short guard, both for what he has shown so far and also for his potential: “he’s no Toni Kukoc, but he has a great margin for improvement”, according to his coach of two years ago Dusan Ivkovic. He is a hybrid of the Croat’s quality and Andrés Nocioni’s determination and commitment.
Best Young Player of the Euroleague
Kostas Papanikolaou was chosen as the Young Player of the Tournament in the 2012/13 Euroleague - a competition he won for the second year running. The Greek had the best exterior record of the competition with a 52% success rate at three pointers and although he is hardly famed as a scorer, his 50 out of 96 attempts shows he is more than dependable.
Last year was his best season in Europe, with an average of 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and an overall valuation of 11.7 after less than 24 minutes a game on average. In the domestic competition he averaged 9.2 points a game, with a 69% record on two pointers, as well as an average of 4 rebounds a game. Barça have undoubtedly signed a great natural talent, full of commitment and a determination to continue improving.
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