Greek Comeback Kings Win Euroleague

14 May 2012

BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Olympiacos Euroleague 2012 champions
Olympiacos captain Vassilis Spanoulis and his teammates lift the Turkish Airlines Euroleague 2012 trophy (photo: Ciamillo-Castoria)

Olympiacos capped a dramatic comeback with a basket from Georgios Printezis just 0.7 seconds from the death to stun CSKA Moscow and capture the Turkish Airlines Euroleague title on Sunday in Istanbul.

Trailing by 19 points with 11 minutes remaining in the Sinan Erdem Arena, the Reds rose from the dead and prevailed 62-61.

Olympiacos were resilient, but CSKA had only themselves to blame because they suffered a major collapse.

The Russians missed several key free-throws, including two with 10 seconds remaining by Ramunas Siskauskas.

The Lithuanian went to the line with his team in front, 61-60, and misfired on both attempts to leave the door open for Olympiacos.

Kostas Papanikolaou, who had 18 points, grabbed the rebound on the second miss and handed the ball off to Vassilis Spanoulis.

The Greece international quickly dribbled the ball up the floor and penetrated but encountered a wall of CSKA defenders.

Spanoulis passed to an open Printezis on the left baseline and the 27-year-old forward jumped and released the ball with his right hand before watching it fall through the hoop for the final points of the game.

CSKA had one last chance.

They hurled the ball up the floor into the direction of Andrei Kirilenko but the Reds hustled back on defense and batted the ball away.

Vassilis Spanoulis - Olympiacos - Euroleague 2012 Final
CSKA -and everyone else- were expecting Spanoulis to take the last shot, but he  passed to an open Printezis instead for the game winner

The Olympiacos players swarmed Printezis, who had 12 points and four rebounds.

Spanoulis, who had 15 points in the title game, was named MVP of the Final Four.

It was the second time he had scooped the honor, with the first coming in 2009 after he led Panathinaikos to the Euroleague title in Berlin.

The 21-year-old Papanikolaou, who won an U20 European Championship with Greece and played on their team at last year's EuroBasket in Lithuania, showed yet again that he is one of the rising stars in the game.

"I will never, ever forget this moment," Papanikolaou said.

"It is the greatest moment in my life, and we have the best fans in the world!"

Olympiacos boss Dusan Ivkovic, who had coached the club to the Euroleague crown in 1997, celebrated one of the most incredible victories in his legendary career and it could not have been any sweeter.

Ivkovic had once been at the helm of CSKA but was shown the door after the team lost both games at the Final Four they hosted in Moscow seven years ago.

The Serbian maestro has established a new record by leading a team to the Euroleague title at age 69. 

The result spoiled a spectacular season in Europe for Kirilenko, who'd won the Best Defender Trophy at the end of the Regular Season and was also on Saturday named the Euroleague Player of the Year.

"I want to congratulate Olympiacos," he said.

"They played a great game and coming back from 19 points down takes a lot of heart and a lot of guts.

"I think they did a very good job in the fourth quarter and punished us."

 


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