Panathinaikos snatched home advantage from Olympiakos from the very start of the Basket League finals series with an 83-81 victory in Piraeus on Thursday, after one of the most spectacular games in the league’s finals ever.
The visitors led for almost the entire game, stretching their advantage to 12 points in the first half (31-19), but Olympiakos came back in the third period and went narrowly ahead (56-55).
However the work of caretaking coach Argyris Pedoulakis on the Panathinaikos defense made the difference, as it managed to contain Olympiakos captain Vassilis Spanoulis and show more energy in rebounds.
Nick Calathes had 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Panathinaikos to victory, but the game’s top scorer was Olympiakos’s Matt Lojeski with 21 points.
The Greens inflicted on Olympiakos its first home loss in the league in two years, but the Reds will get the chance to go even on Sunday when they visit Panathinaikos for Game 2 at the Olympic Sports Center in Athens. Until then the Greens lead 1-0 in the best-of-five finals.
The match was marred by the attack by Olympiakos fans at the police outside the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
In the battle for the third place, AEK also upset host Aris, winning Game 1 of their best-of-five series 77-67 on Wednesday in Thessaloniki.