Between Aris Thessaloniki, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, Greek clubs have been eight times to the Final Four.
Three times they lost in the final game. A terrible disappointment for a country totally in love with basketball. In 1996, Panathinaikos decided it was finally time to win Europe’s most
In the offseason, the men in green signed NBA superstar Dominique Wilkins. With nine NBA All-Star Games in thirteen seasons and a 25.8 points per game career average, Wilkins had to live with the huge pressure of being the man who had to take Panathinaikos to the promised land.
The road to victory was quite a rocky one. In the regular season, four teams posted a better record than Panathinaikos and the Greeks had to face the difficult task of playing Benetton
Treviso in the quarter finals without home court advantage. So far the season had been up and down for Wilkins who had to adjust to European basketball. But in the playoffs, he took his
game to the next level.
In the three game series against Benetton, he averaged 25.0 points and 7.0 rebounds as Panathinaikos escaped with a dramatic one point victory in the last game in Treviso. In the semi-final game against CSKA Moscow, Wilkins, again, scored 35 points to take his team to its first ever final.
But ultimately, he would not be the hero.
In a thrilling ending, Panathinaikos beat FC Barcelona 67-66 on a spectacular but controversial
game winning block by Stojan Vrankovic. Nonetheless, Wilkins was named MVP, coach Bozidar Maljkovic took home his fourth Final Four victory while Panathinaikos’ fans could celebrate the fact that the club was the first Greek team to win the trophy.