One of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's signature players over the last decade, energetic Olympiacos Piraeus forward Kostas Papanikolaou, is staying with the Reds until at least 2023, the club announced on Wednesday. Papanikolaou (2.04 meters, 30 years old) will begin his 10th season with Olympiacos next week when the Reds open the season hosting Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday, October 1. Papanikolaou was a key ingredient to Olympiacos winning last decade's only back-to-back titles by the same team, in 2012 and 2013. In the first of those Final Fours, he is remembered for shooting perfectly from the floor while averaging 13.5 points on the weekend in Istanbul and sinking major shots in his team's 19-point, 11-minute comeback to defeat CSKA Moscow. The next season, having become a full-time starter, Papanikolaou became the Rising Star Trophy winner as voted by EuroLeague head coaches on the weekend that Olympiacos defended the title in London.
Papanikolaou joined FC Barcelona the next season and then spent a year and a half in the NBA with Houston and Denver before returning in January of 2016 to Olympiacos, where he has stayed ever since, helping the Reds return to the EuroLeague Championship Game in 2017, where they fell to Fenerbahce Istanbul. All told, through 231 career EuroLeague games, Papanikolaou has averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists while also earning a reputation as one of the best defenders at his position.