While the Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olympiacos soccer clubs battled in Europa League action last night, their basketball equivalents made a tidy financial transaction of their own.
Maccabi reached an understanding with big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis for a two-year contract worth a reported 700,000 euros. The 25-year-old center has played the last five seasons at Olympiacos, based in the Athens-area port city of Piraeus.
"We had a few misgivings about him, particularly his weight and his potential adaptability to life outside Greece after playing seven seasons there," Maccabi officials said. "But the benefits he brings outweigh the liabilities."
Schortsanitis was born in Cameroon to a Cameroonian mother and Greek father. Widely known as "Baby Shaq," he comes in at 2.06 meters (6'9" ) and 156 kilograms (356 pounds ).
When offered a contract with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers in 2006, Schortsanitis turned it down because he was still under contract with Olympiacos. The center was a key component in Greece's 101-95 semifinal upset of the U.S. at the 2009 FIBA World Championships. Greece went on to win silver.
"I have to prove to everyone that I'm as good a player as I ever was," Schortsanitis said. "I believe that at Maccabi, where the people, atmosphere and love of basketball remind me of Greece, I'll be able to do that in the best way possible."
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