By: Justin Gray / @JustinGray1
What’s up ELA people! It’s been way too long since I gave you guys an update on what’s going on with me these days…
Well, I’m in Thessaloniki, Greece now, playing for the historic club PAOK! The city here is pretty cool and I’m enjoying myself so far… Our team is doing pretty good. We are in 4th place right now in one of the best leagues in Europe… I must say that this is the toughest competition that I’ve played in since being overseas. We were also playing in the EuroCup but we didn’t make it out of our group due to the point system. We were tied with Estudiantes from Spain both with 3-3 records, but they beat us by 9 points at their place and we could only win by 7 points at our place. I still think I’ve had a pretty good season so far, however, and I’m averaging 11 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds a game right now. That’s good considering how slow the game is played here in Greece. Not as much transition play as the other countries I’ve played in like Belgium or Poland.
Playing the point guard position here is much different than playing in those other leagues, especially because the game is much slower which means fewer possessions, so every play counts. It’s cool though, and the fans here are the CRAZIEST I’ve ever seen in my life… When you hear people say “PAOK is a way of life”…they mean just that!!!
I first got here and people would tell me only one thing: you must beat Aris! Aris is our in-town derby (rivalry, for all y’all in the states) and I thought, “OK, I’ve played against Duke, North Carolina, NC State.” But it was nothing like that at all. We went and played at their place first and the fans were throwing change, water bottles, toilet tissue, batteries, and that wasn’t even the worst thing…they were spitting! Lol. I laughed, but they really were spitting and I couldn’t believe that. I guess that’s why I say the fans are crazy here. Then I found out that it’s like that at just about every road game, but between PAOK/Aris there’s just a little bit more!
We lost that game on the road but got our revenge the second time around the other night! Only bad thing was that our fans weren’t able to come to the game because the league punished the club for their actions against Olympiacos in the Greek Cup game. So then we have one more game without fans and the first game we have with the fans back will be against—you guessed it—Olympiacos in a league game… I’ll have to write and let you know how that game goes and how the fans react. Next time I’ll definitely have some game footage to show you!
Until next time… BE BLESSED!