As any basketball-playground goer knows well, the desire to go play some hoops when you are in a foreign city, while visiting it or living in it, does not turn off at all. If anything, you’d really want to go and try that court that looked so cool on day two of your holiday and now it is day five and you have a couple of free hours. So, if you are in Athens, here is a short guide for anyone in the city not knowing where to go to play basketball, plus some Greek street-basketball terminology.
(Cover photo credits @ author)
The Ambelokipi playground, right in front of Ambelokipi metro station, has the classic look of an urban playground; surrounded by massive white buildings, a dark floor, half-broken high metal fences, and, usually, missing nets. There are two courts but sometimes you’ll see people playing only in one of the two because the courts might get damaged at times. Nevertheless, it is still a solid court with great tradition; on the weekends it gets busy, so you might need to ask “who is next?” (“Pios einai epomenos?”) or “let’s make a team” (“kanoume mia omada”). Greece is, and has been for decades, one of Europe’s basketball powers and it shows on the playground. It is possible you’ll have to guard a guy that would play as a pro in your home country but couldn’t make it here. So, get ready to play some defense (“amina”).
Another popular choice is the Strefi playground. It has a mix of one-of-a-kind traits that make it a great place to play and enjoy basketball. It is located on one of Athens’ most interesting locations; that Strefi hill which stands above Exarchia neighbourhood and offers a relief for many Athenians thanks to its park and its stunning views over the city. Because of this unique location the court is filled with people playing a variety of sports; hoopers usually manage to get one half of the court and never let go. Some fierce games usually happen here!
The Liossion court is what might be considered as your classic open-air basketball playground: wide spaces, two parallel courts, lot of trees and green around, lot of players ready to play. Personally, it has been a pleasure to discover it because it is a playground where you can go at almost any time and you’ll find somebody already playing.
Once on the court you’ll see that everybody uses the English terms for some fundamentals (shoot, pass, block, screen) so you’ll get on fine but if you want to dive deeper then you might say:
“Edò!” = “I’m open”
“Kopse!” = “Cut!”
“Treche!” = “Run!”
“Posta Re!” = “Post him up!”
“Bravo!” = “Good”
“Bravo Re Pechtura!” = “Good move, man!”, literally “Good move, big player!”
“Efages Tapa!” = “In your face!”, usually after a block.
Enjoy your next game!
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