BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Dimitris Diamantidis led the way for Panathinaikos in Game 3 with 18 points |
Olympiacos successfully defended their Turkish Airlines Euroleague crown this year but were dethroned on the domestic front on Wednesday, as they were swept 3-0 by arch-rivals Panathinaikos in the Finals of the Greek Basket League OPAP.
PAO were deemed to have won Game 3 on the road, although Wednesday's encounter in the Peace and Friendship Stadium of Piraeus never actually entered its 40th minute. Disturbances in the stands were followed by a court invasion by the fans and the third game of the Finals was abandoned while there was still 1:26 to play till the final buzzer.
Panathinaikos were leading their hosts 76-72 at the time of the interruption, which was ratified as the final score.
The guests took a 24-17 lead in the first quarter but Olympiacos replied by outscoring them 22-11 in the second frame to go into the locker rooms at the interval with a 39-35 advantage.
PAO levelled the scores by the end of the third quarter and then pulled ahead in the fourth with former Greek international Dimitris Diamantidis making big shots from behind the three-point arc, until the game concluded in abrupt manner.
Diamantidis had 18 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting, seven rebounds and four assists while Kostas Tsartsaris finished with 14 points and Lithuanian international Jonas Maciulis added 11 points.
"We had to work hard all year long because Olympiacos were miles ahead of us with their play," said Panathinaikos head coach Argyris Pedoulakis.
"They were better especially in the open court, while we were more comfortable with half-court offences."
"So we focused on the five-on-five play and we won twice on the road, something incredible."
The Greens of Athens reached the title series without the home-court advantage as they had finished in second place in the Regular Season.
They surprised the Euroleague champions however with their steely defence and took a 64-51 win on the road in Game 1, with Croatian international Roko Leni Ukic leading the way with 12 points.
Game 2 followed a similar storyline and Panathinaikos claimed a 63-52 victory with Ukic this time going 4-for-7 from three-point range to lead all scorers with 17 points.
Panathinaikos, who had already conquered the Greek Cup earlier in the season, have now added a record 33rd league title to their trophy case, with Olympiacos and Aris Thessaloniki tied in second with 10 each.