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Greeks Jumping out the Gym

Greek League Basketball Playoffs Tip-Off this Weekend  

There's a place every weekend where the competition between Greeks doesn't take place on Friday or Saturday nights.  After the Greek Nights are over, and the hangovers have passed (for most of the guys at least) there is a place where dozens of Greek guys and their fans can gather for the most basic of competition between Greeks there is in this town....  basketball.  For those of you who may not have heard of this league, "Greek League" has been around since 1998. It started as a league with 6 teams, with players mainly from Sts. Constantine and Helen in Washington, DC, and has grown to 12 teams in now its 5th season.  While still comprised of mostly guys from the Maryland suburbs, there are players from DC, Northern Virginia, and even as far away as Baltimore who play in this league for 12 weeks from February through April.  Most teams are sponsored by a Greek-owned business or association.  While in most cases the uniforms are different, many of these players are the same guys who grew up playing GOYA basketball in the late 80s and early 90s.  But this league is all grown up and the level of play and the level of trash-talk has grown up as well.

We here at DCGreeks.com have decided to feature the teams of Greek League before the start of this weekend's Greek League Playoffs, a 12-team free-for-all where the regular season records are thrown out the window and anything can happen.  We've given each team a chance to tell us a little bit about themselves, their hopes for the playoffs, and how they see the playoffs shaping up over the next two weeks.  (We were able to get responses back from 7 of the 12 teams in Greek League by the time of this article.  We've provided rosters and seeding information for the teams that weren't able to respond to us in time.)  Games will be played starting at noon on Sunday with the last game tipping off at 7:00, so if you're in the mood to see some great basketball or to just come out and see your friends either on the court or in the stands, stop by Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring this Sunday.  

For more information on Greek League, visit their website at www.greekleague.com or send an email to info@greekleague.com.  

 

Greek League Teams

#1  Amphtrion Holidays #7  DCGreeks.com
#2  Vourvoura #8  Painters
#3  Pan-Hellenic #9  Hercules
#4  Papa John's #10 Lola's Flower Garden
#5  The Rebellion #11 Nick's Diner
#6  Mamma's #12 Panorama

#1. Amphitrion Holidays (9-1)

Amphitrion Holidays is one of the three new teams in Greek League this year, and enters the tournament as the #1 seed.  Their sponsor is the DC office of the Greek travel and tourism giant by the same name.  The Amphitrion media guide, provided to DCGreeks.com, gives some insight into the personality of this team and its players. 

    George Karmires - President and Owner.  Wanted to get Armani jerseys but was overruled by sponsor and settled for Addidas

    Misha Adamantiades - Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer, currently his full time job.

    Gus Drakakis - General Manager/Coach/Architect. 

    Joe Godin - Best Player on the Team/MVP and one of Amphitrion’s two Philhellenes. 

    Anthony Calamitsis - Senior Leader and Team Sweat Machine.

    Christos Kyriakides - Jordan Wanna-be/Chain Smoker/Iverson Energy.

    Brian Duffy- All around average white-guy who can play ball and Amphitrion’s other Philhellene. 

    John Vasilios - Member of 3 different Boy-bands and Baltimore Immigrant.

    Jean-Paul Pangalos – A Greek from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain who holds the distinction of being the tallest man in the league.

Amphitrion exhibits good chemistry on the basketball court as well as off of it.  Team members play basketball regularly once a week but sometimes they bowl, ice-skate, and play tavli together.  They’ve all known each other since childhood growing up in the same neighborhood.  The team met with representatives from Amphitrion Holidays on a cruise to visit Jean-Paul and Amphitrion expressed interest in Greek League at that time.  Amphitrion claims that Amphitrion Holidays wanted to buy the league initially, but after careful thought it decided to give the team “jerseys and a slap on the back.” 

Amphitrion is confident in their chances in this year’s tournament.  They state, “We have high goals for winning, even though it is our first year.  Without trying to sound arrogant we believe we are the best team to ever play in this league.  We have the confidence, the team-work, and the leadership that it takes to win it all.  We look forward to dominating this league for many years to come.”  The team has also a lot to say about the chances of the remaining teams in the field, commenting, “As for other teams, we think Lola’s is the second best.  We think that being named after a flower shop entitles you to bonus points that can never be reflected in game scores.  It is obvious that the food at Nick's Diner is really wholesome and is more appropriate for middle linebackers than for basketball players.  Vourvoura has a knack for making it appear that there is more than one of the same player on the court, which is terribly confusing.  DCGreeks.com also has this knack.  Panorama should have Pete DJ the games so they feel more comfortable on the court.”  Despite its goal of winning the league in its first year, Amphitrion recognizes what Greek League is all about.  They add, “We love playing in this league and are here for the fun of it.  We have met a lot of great people and we hope to participate for many years to come.  Take care and good luck to everyone."

#2. Vourvoura (7-3)

The #2 seed in this year's tournament is one of the founding teams of the league and perennial tournament favorite, Vourvoura, who after losing their top two scorers to injury have limped into this year's playoffs with two straight losses. Vourvoura was started by the Papoulias twins, Demetri and Nick, and is named after the region in Greece from which the Papoulias' parents hail. The Vourvoura Society is responsible for purchasing the teams jerseys. Demetri Papoulias explains, "We chose Forest Green as our team color because that is the color of the town (either that or brown for all the dirt roads)." 

The Papoulias Brothers started the team and were responsible for most of the make up of the team. Papoulias explains, "Our first teammate we picked was GJ Kissal. We picked him because not only could he play basketball but he was a successful coach and recruiter as evident at his days at Good Counsel HS and Catholic University (Div III National Champions). We gave GJ GM duties and he has done a great job picking up the talent we needed to be successful. Most of our players knew each other from playing GOYA ball." 

Vourvoura's line-up is as follows: 

    Demetri Papoulias (St Connie's '93)
    Nick Papoulias (St Connie's '93)
    GJ Kissal (St Connie's '91)
    Pete Lambis (St. Sophia '92)
    George Glekas (St. Sophia '91)
    George Manolatis (St. Sophia '95)
    Scott McCleri (Philhellene) 
    Jason Collier (Philhellene)

The team's two Philhellenes are Scott McCleri and Jason Collier who were both recruited by GJ Kissal. Papoulias comments, "We needed to fill our two non-Greek spots and we didn't want to go out and find the best basketball players like everyone else was doing. We really wanted to get two players close to the Greek Community. GJ Kissal spotted Scott and Jason eating gyros at a local restaurant in DC. He approached them and talked to them for a few minutes (making sure they true 'Philhellenes'). They told GJ their love for gyros and the white sauce on them. They eat them at least three times a week. GJ decided to invite them on our team. They are "ok" players but we are glad they are so close to our Greek Community."

Vourvoura has been to the final four in every season of Greek League and knows what to expect in this year's tournament. "I am most worried about Papa John's," Papoulias adds, "In the 4 years of playoffs we have lost to them twice. The other 2 years we beat them in the championship. We are the only two teams to make the final four all four years. As far as a Cinderella, I would be most scared of Lola's. They have some players and a coach with some playoff experience. They have taken Papa John's down to the wire the last 2 years in the quarterfinals."

Papoulias sees two teams as the favorites in this year's tournament. "I would say the favorites right now would have to be Papa John's or Pan-Hellenic. Both teams are loaded with outside shooters and if they get hot they will be tough to beat." 

Papoulias admits that Vourvoura faces a difficult road ahead in the playoffs. "I think we will win the championship. Although it will be tough you have to go in with confidence. It's going to be tough for us without our top two scorers, Pete Lambis and Scott McCleri, to do anything in the playoffs."

Vourvoura has a consistently solid following in Greek League. "We have 4 fans that have come see us play. GJ Kissals and George Glekas's wifes, Tamara and Alexis. We are definitely looking for more of a fan base. We just don't have any fan favorites like Pete Moutso. Everyone comes and sees him. We tried to sign him but he was loyal to Panorama. He would have definitely added fans in our seats."

Papoulias, as one of the founders of Greek League, enjoys the chance to play against Greeks every week. "I definitely get more fired up playing Greeks but more importantly I enjoy smack talking with everyone before and after the games (only when we win though)." 

As one of the more veteran squads in Greek League, Vourvoura will be looking to add some youth and some new attitude in the off-season. "We are most likely going to add some new players. We are an old team in need of some younger players as evident in all the injuries our team has had this year. Also we have too many players that have enjoyed their celebrity status as Greek League champions and have partied too much. We need some players that are hungry to win. Its better to play for Vourvoura because we are competitive every year and have more championships than anyone else in the league. We also pay our players very well." Any interested players with basketball experience (Div 2 and up) can contact the Vourvoura front office at vourvoura@greekleague.com.

#3. Pan-Hellenic (7-3)

Roster:

    Fannis Stafilatos
    Pat Klephan (Philhellene)
    Theo Papayiannis
    Lambros Georgopoulos
    Alex Papanickalou
    Dewitt Hoffman (Philhellene)
    Jason Yeasemas
    Alex Diatsintos
    Cleovoulos Ellinopoulos
    Damian Karakes 
    George Soulfas
    Jason Deja

#4. Papa John's (7-3)

Papa John's, the team formerly sponsored by the Shark Club, sports the colors of the pizza franchise owned locally by team member Michael Passas, who formed the team from players he knew. Papa John's has a very deep roster and is always looking to add players. 

Papa John's roster includes: 

    James Gimourginas 
    Pete Stamos 
    Nick Papageorgiou 
    Victor Hall 
    Gus Anifantis 
    Jamie Koutras 
    Michael Passas 
    Greg Giannakopoulos 
    Mike Stamos 
    Demetre Koutras 
    Bill Dowling (Philhellene)
    Mark Moulton (Philhellene)

Both Philhellenes, Dowling and Moulton, were brought to the team by Stamos. 

All the Greek players on the team have prior GOYA experience with Sts. Constantine & Helen (DC) and St. George.  Papa John's recognizes its place in the history of Greek League and is confident of its continued success in this years tournament, claiming to have "No Worries!" about facing anyone in this year's field. Passas adds, "I think we will win again! We won it last year and have been in every championship game since inception! No new teams should win! New teams need to earn the privilege of playing in the championship game." Papa John's has managed this success with no real fan base. Passas comments, "We have no real fan base... Our fans have better things to do than watch us play!"

#5. The Rebellion (6-4)

Roster:

    Nick Chaconas
    Mike Dalakis
    Frank Harrison
    George Kambanis
    Mike Kersh
    Louis Koutris
    Telly Michaelopoulos
    Christian Natellis (Philhellene)
    Ryan Waid (Philhellene)

#6. Mamma's (6-4)

Roster: 

    Kosta Tsiolis
    George Aggelis
    Dimitri Papaloizos
    Mike Strosnider
    Mike Cipu
    Ted Xenohristos
    Joel Harvey
    Kevin Miller (Philhellene)
    Charles Chrisostomou
    Josh Applebaum (Philhellene)

#7.  DCGreeks.com (5-5)

Another newcomer to the league, DCGreeks.com was started by the Chronis twins after they were approached by teammate Pete Crassas to play in Greek League last year when it was already too late to register a team for the league.  They could have approached other teams to play with this year but decided that there’s no better way to prove to the world that your business will be around for the long-haul than to slap its name on something athletic (like Enron, or PSI Net), and therefore started their own team.  The Chronis brothers knew that ex-DCGreeks.com founder John Markos would be their starting shooting guard, and knew that philhellene Matt Muller, with his love of Greek festivals and more so the food at these Greek festivals, especially loukoumades, which he affectionately refers to as "Golden Goodness," would fill out two more roster spots.  They added Greek League veteran, Alex Stathopoulos, and relative newcomer to the DC area, Thanos Basdekis to the mix to fill out the last couple of spots on the team.  DCGreeks.com is the only team in the league with no GOYA basketball experience whatsoever.    

DCGreeks.com recognizes that it will have to pretty much beat every team that it has lost to during the regular season to advance in this year's playoffs.  "We have the ability to hang with any team in this league.  If we beat a team, more often than not, it'll be close.  We also have the ability to lose to any team in this league by over 15 points.  We don't know which DCGreeks.com team will show up on any given day."  

"The sleeper team in this year's tournament  is Lola's.  They blew us out by 20 points in the first week of the season, and they've played everyone else close.  If they get past us in the first round, watch out Vourvoura, because Lola's just might be the team to end Vourvoura's run of four straight final four appearances."  

"We think any of the top six teams has a good chance to win this thing, with the exception of Vourvoura, unless they come back healthy with all their starters."  

DCGreeks.com has gone anywhere from packing the stands to no fans at all, with girlfriends, friends of girlfriends, a fiancée, and even one teammate's mother coming to watch its games.

#8.  Painters (4-6)

Roster:

    Nick Bergeris
    Steve Bergeris
    Steve Felas (Philhellene)
    George Grillo
    Homer Mitrakas
    Costa Angelopoulos
    Stephen Sickman (Philhellene)
    Jimmy Vranos

#9.  Hercules (4-6)

Roster:

    Yiannis Tsoukalas
    Paul Jones
    Stephen Jones
    Jordan Dimopoulos
    Yiannis Trichas
    Sotiri Bafitis
    Demetrios Tsimis
    Michael Bafitis
    Demetrios Bafitis
    Troy Prezzi (Philhellene)
    Charlie Jweyanni (Philhellene)
    Stefan Rodousakis

#10.  Lola's Flower Garden (2-8)

Lola's Flower Garden enters the tournament as the 10th seed after a much-needed win against Panorama last Sunday that kept them out of the dreaded 12th position. Lola's is sponsored by Lola's Flower Garden, a DC florist owned Ike Karavangelos' mother and uncle who bought the team its Carolina blue uniforms. The team has been playing in the league for three years, with some of its players leaving other teams to join Lola's. Ike Karavangelos formed the team after a falling out with Nick's Diner, with a base of players that mostly played for St. Constantine & Helen's and went to Good Counsel High School. (Tim Stayeas went to St. George and Elias Zarkadoulas played for St. Katherine's.)

Lola's roster includes the following players:

    Ike Karavangelos (St. Connie's, '91)
    Louie Sigalos (St. Connie's, '91)
    Tim Stayeas (St. George, '93)
    Tony Cavasilios
    Elias Zarkadoulas (St. Katherine's, '93)
    Rick Kuhlman
    Andreas Rezavic (Philhellene)
    Vic Delpino (Philhellene)

Karavangelos recruited Andreas to the team as one of the teams Philhelenes. Vic Delpino, listed in the Lola's media guide as "The Mexican Superstar" also went to Good Counsel, knowing all the guys on the team from there. 

Lola's sees a difficult road ahead in the playoffs, but do see themselves making it at least through to the semifinals. "We definitely have the talent to do so," Lola's adds. Lola's maintains a lot of respect for Papa John's, having lost to them the last two years in the playoffs. Lola's sees Papa Johns as having the best shot of winning this year's tournament because of their experience in the championship game every year. Lola's would like to see someone knock off the #1 seed Amphitrion Holidays. "They have a lot of cocky guys on their team...."

Lola's sustains a solid female fan base every week. "Our fan base is all of our teammates' many girlfriends. Girls travel from NY and California to see us, especially Tony." The team enjoys playing against other Greeks in the league week in and week out. "We get more fired up for Greek competition because we know them all and see them around." Lola's is looking to add some size to its team next year, with "a new 6'5, 6'6 guy down low" on Ike Karavangelos wish list for next season. Any interested players can contact Karavangelos at Lola's front office at klay55@comcast.net

#11.  Nick's Diner (2-8)

Nick's Diner, a five year veteran of Greek League is sponsored by Nick's Diner in Wheaton, which is owned by the father of one of the teams players. Like many of the teams in the league, the Greek players on Nick's Diner all grew up together, playing for Sts. Constantine & Helen's GOYA from 1986 to 1993. Their one Philhellene, Greg comes to Greek dances and other Greek functions with members of the team.

Nick's Diner's roster is as follows:  

    George Markopoulos
    Angelo Ferentinos
    Yianni Marlas
    Nick Tsahalis
    Gus Tsirikos
    Greg "Cracker" Whitney (Philhellene)
    Phil Sakala
    Mike Liapis
    Billy Ferentinos
    Bob Overmeyer (Philhellene)

Nick's Diner is confident of their chances of going "all the way" and winning this year's tournament despite coming in as the 11th seed. "It does not matter. We think we can beat everybody." Nick's Diner singles out Vourvoura as the team they'd least like to see win this year's tournament. 

#12.  Panorama (1-9)

The 12th seed in the tournament, Panorama is sponsored by Panorama Productions. Team Co-owner and GM Pete Moutso decided to go along with fellow co-owner Antonis Karagunis suggestion of naming the team after his primary holding Panorama Productions of which Karigunis owns 100% and is the CEO, CFO, and Director of Sales and Marketing. "Oh yeah, and Antonis paid the team fees and bought the uniforms, so we didn't really have much choice," adds team member Demetri Agellis. The core members of Panorama have been together for the last three years although Pete Moutso, Andre De Moya, and Chris "Buff" Dyer all played together on the "SPY GUYS" team in the late 90's, during the league's inception. Moutso, De Moya and Dyer have know each other from the SPY club days. Agellis explains, "Most of the guys on the team have known each other from growing up together. Kosta and Pete met at the University of MD. Demitri and Arthur grew up with Pete. John Burns and honorary team member Paul Handakis have known each other from their GOYA days." 

The Philhelenes on the squad are Andre De Moya and Chris Dyer. "The way Andre (De Moya) conducts his business I don't understand how he is not considered Greek," Agellis comments, "He makes more under the table than most Greeks I know. "Chris (Dyer) made friends built great with a lot of Greeks over the years by doing one thing.....SERVING THEM ALCOHOL. He knew the quickest way to make a Greek a friend was to give them a beer...or a shot... or anything else that contained alcohol. Half the players in the league are former clients of Chris's from back in the SPY CLUB days. Now Chris has return business from his bartending days in his new line of business, Real estate."

Panorama has plenty of GOYA experience on its team between St. Connies in DC and St. Nick's in Baltimore. 

St. Connies (D.C.)
    Demitri Aggelis 88-93
    Pete Moutso 88-93
    Greg Trakas 91-96
    Arthur Manzouris 91-96

St. Nick's (Baltimore)
    John Burns
    Paul Handakis

Panorama is very realistic, yet slightly optimistic, about their chances in the tournament coming in as the 12th seed. "It is possible for us to win the whole thing but not likely. We have to play two good teams in one day and two even better teams the following week." Panorama sees Amphitrion Holidays' size inside presenting problems if Panorama advances to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Panorama sees the a couple of teams as having a good chance of winning this year's tournament. "I hate to say it but I think Vourvoura will have the best shot. I think Mamma's has a good shot too but only if all their players show up and are sober, except for Gonzo, he plays better hung over." Aggelis adds, "I only want to see Panorama win the title. If that doesn't happen, then who ever does go on to win it deserves it."

The team has quite a number of diverse fans that come to support it every week. "We do have fans. They are the girlfriends and wives of the players....oh yeah and all the guys Chris used to hook up are pulling for him too. DJ Moutso has his own fan base but they are too worn out from the night before to show up to the game the next day." 

For Panorama, Greek League is a chance to relive a part of their youth. "It's fun and it takes us back to our GOYA days, except for the dances and sleeping at other people's houses."

Although this season has been a disappointment, Panorama has hopes for the future. "After losing the championship last year we were looking to take it all this year but lavish spending in free agency proved to us that we can't buy a championship. There might be a shake up at the top at the end of the year. We just hope to have Paul back next year." Aggelis warns, "Fear the (Moutso) Nation in 2003."


Read past feature articles.