SPORTS

Olympiakos comes from behind to win Euroleague

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos managed to upset CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague final to be crowned European champion for the second time in its history with a 62-61 score on Sunday in Istanbul.

The Reds did the unthinkable, as not only were they the underdogs before the final, but they were also 19 points behind the Russian giant late in the third period (53-34) before they started their comeback.

Led by an outstanding Costas Papanikolaou who secured the Most Valuable Player distinction after scoring 18 points on the night, Olympiakos scored a 28-8 partial score in the latter stages of the final at the Sinan Erdem court to turn the game around and win the trophy although it had not even been considered likely to reach the top-16 early on in the season.

The game was not the best match of basketball the continent has witnessed, with Olympiakos scoring no more than seven points in the first period and 20 in the first half, after which the Russians led 34-20.

CSKA, with far more experienced players and amazing physical abilities, went on to add to its advantage in the third period, stretching it as far as 19 points, but that was when Olympiakos woke up.

The Greeks scored six points till the end of the third quarter (53-40) and carried on in the fourth with eight more unanswered points to 53-48.

The Moscow club grew frustrated in attack, with playmaker Milos Teodosic, a former Olympiakos player, conceding one error after another.

Olympiakos took the opportunity to reduce the deficit to just one point (61-60) and when Ramunas Siskauskas of CSKA missed both his free throws, it fell to Giorgos Printezis to become the hero of the night after a pass from Vassilis Spanoulis. Printezis made no mistake and his shot went in, seven tenths of a second from the end to give the Reds the most unlikely of victories.

As a result the trophy remains in Greek hands as Panathinaikos has handed over the crown of Europe to crosstown rival Olympiakos, who had won its first Euroleague in 1997, again with current coach Dusan Ivkovic on its bench.

Panathinaikos finished fourth in the Final Four after going down 74-69 to Barcelona in the 3rd-place match earlier on Sunday.

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