Never-say-die Greens bring final series back home

By George Georgakopoulos

Panathinaikos defied forecasts and managed to end Olympiakos’s unbeaten run at home in the domestic competitions with a 67-65 win at the Peace and Friendship Stadium of Faliro on Sunday, to level the series 2-2 and bring it back home on Wednesday in the final of finals.

Olympiakos, coming from what seemed like the killer blow at its Eternal Rival with the away win three days earlier, appeared too complacent for such a game where victory would have crowned it champion on the night.

Panathinaikos coach Frangiskos Alvertis opted for the physical game in defense and for the pick-and-roll game in attack that produced plenty of successful penetrations in the paint, instead of the usual persistence in three-pointers.

Still, for a team that lives and dies by its three-pointers, it was a blessing for Panathinaikos that out of the four such shots it attempted in the first half it made the three, compared with Olympiakos’s 0/8.

As a result the Greens turned a 14-11 Olympiakos advantage into a 13-point margin in their favor (30-17), which they preserved by the end of the first half (43-30).

In the third quarter, Panathinaikos proved wasteful in attack and after leading by 14 (49-35), it allowed Olympiakos to close the gap to six (49-43). Its answer came via two back-to-back three pointers and the third period ended 57-45 in the visitors’ favor.

The last quarter was a festival of turnovers, with the visitors trying mainly to waste time, so the 66-53 advantage for Panathinaikos turned into 66-65 through 12 unanswered points by the Reds.

Eventually a free throw by forward Stephane Lasme two seconds from the end and a missed shot by Olympiakos captain Vassilis Spanoulis sealed Panathinaikos’s triumph in Piraeus.

Lasme was the man of the match with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Spanoulis scored no more than just one point.

Earlier on Sunday PAOK beat Panionios 84-80 at home and won the series for the third place with a 3-1 score.