Fans mar Panathi­naikos tri­umph

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Panathi­naikos man­aged to beat archri­val Olympiakos 101-94 at home late on Sun­day de­spite the ab­sence of its cap­tain, Dim­itris Dia­man­tidis, to win a ninth con­sec­u­tive bas­ket­ball ti­tle, but the match was marred by fan ac­tion.

The game at the Olympic Sports Hall was a great bas­ket­ball show with two of the best teams in Europe, but was tainted by Panathi­naikos fans who re­peat­edly hurled ob­jects onto the court and forced ref­er­ees to stop the game sev­eral times.

The con­test was evenly bal­anced in reg­u­la­tion time de­spite the in­jury sus­tained by Dia­man­tidis just one-and-a-half min­utes into the first pe­riod, which de­prived Panathi­naikos of this sea­son’s best player in Europe.

It there­fore fell to An­to­nis Fot­sis to rise to the oc- ca­sion and be­come the hero for the Euro­pean cham­pion, which won its 13th ti­tle in the last 14 years.

It al­ways looked as if it would go down to the wire, and it did. The tense fi­nale of the fourth pe­riod saw the two teams level at 83-83, the high­est score of all their meet­ings in the fi­nals.

Ja­mon Gor­don’s five fouls cost Olympiakos dur­ing overtime, while Vas­silis Spanoulis’s lack of con­cen­tra­tion de­prived the Reds of some cru­cial points.

At the other end Fot­sis scored one three-pointer af­ter an­other to end the match with six out of six.

Three-and-a-half sec­onds be­fore the end of the overtime, with the score al­ready at 101-94, a num­ber of fans stormed the court to cel­e­brate. The Olympiakos play­ers rushed to the locker room and only re­turned af­ter five min­utes for the match to fin­ish un­der the threat of an­other in­va­sion.

Fot­sis ended the game with 22 points, while Mike Batiste grabbed an­other 22 for the new cham­pion. Spanoulis scored 18 for Olympiakos.

Panathi­naikos coach Zeljko Obradovic did not mince his words: “I am not happy be­cause of some peo­ple who en­tered the court. Those peo­ple must stop. The other fans must stop them.”

He then went on to con­fess his pride at what the team achieved this sea­son: “This year could be the best sea­son I have had here. In 2007 and 2009 we may have won the triple-crown, but this year, though, I feel prouder of the team, be­cause last sum­mer no­body thought we would get to the Euroleague fi­nal and win it and then win this ti­tle too, ex­cept for us!”

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