Kostas Sloukas

Greek basketball player Kostas Sloukas, who plays for Turkish team Fenerbahce, in a recent interview discussed his experience battling coronavirus (Covid-19) in Turkey and his future at Fenerbahce beyond this season.

For the first time since reports surfaced that he had contracted the coronavirus, Kostas Sloukas spoke to the Greek newspaper Ta Nea and revealed just how he might have contracted the virus after three Fenerbahce players were reported to have fallen ill and were treated in hospital.

“It appears that my teammates brought the coronavirus from Moscow when we faced Khimki. I didn’t play in that game. I stayed in Turkey. But it’s a fact that we were concerned with,” Sloukas explained.

Fenerbahce faced Khimki on 6 March, roughly a week before EuroLeague Basketball decided to suspend the remainder of the season in the wake of the pandemic- a decision that was heavily criticised for coming too late considering the surge of reported cases in Europe as early as late February.

While EuroLeague play was suspended in early March, action in the Turkish domestic league continued through to mid-March until it was revealed that Sloukas, and teammates Jan Vesely and Ahmet Duverioglu had fallen ill.

“As it turned out, the problem was undermined in Turkey and this is why leagues continued like nothing was happening. I hope everything goes well.”

Once news broke of Sloukas’ alleged positive test for the coronavirus, rumours swirled in the Greek press about the 30-year-old’s future in Turkey as Greek basketball insiders hinted as Sloukas’ frustration with Turkish authorities.

It marked the second time this season alone that rumours of Sloukas’ future in Turkey was being questioned. In November, Sloukas was slammed by the Turkish press and Fenerbahce supporters after he didn’t participate in holding a banner commemorating the anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Sloukas, who moved to Fenerbahce from Olympiacos in 2015, has long been a target of both the Erythrolefki and arch-rivals Panathainaikos, and the Greek international went as far addressing the rumours of a return to Greek basketball.

“There is a rumour that I will return to Olympiacos or play for Panathinaikos. I read and listened to the scenarios that are out there, but what I know is that I have a guaranteed contract with Fenerbahce for one more season. Because of the unique circumstances, there are various thoughts on my mind but there is a contract.”

Sloukas didn’t rule out a Fenerbahce exit this summer, however, as he suggested that he would have a decision on his hands if head coach Zeljko Obradovic were to leave the club in the offseason.

“If, of course, coach Obradovic leaves, as it is strongly rumoured, the discussion changes,” Sloukas added.

Another factor that could determine Sloukas’ future in Turkey is the fate of the current EuroLeague campaign. With the season suspended indefinitely, there have been an increase in rumours as of late about a looming cancellation. According to Sloukas, those rumours have some merit based on the state of Europe in the wake of the pandemic.

I think it would be very difficult to play again because the situation has gone way too far all over Europe. Any potential resumption carries with it dangers. I believe that the EuroLeague [season] should be cancelled, one way or another.”

Prior to the suspension of the EuroLeague season, Fenerbahce held a 13-15 record and occupied the final playoff spot with six rounds of action remaining in the regular season.

by Peter Katsiris

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