SPORTS

Reds win title at Panathinaikos on Diamantidis's farewell

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos has won the Greek basketball league after another away triumph at Panathinaikos on Monday, this time in second overtime, in what was the first time it has clinched the title at the Greens’ home court. The game marked the end of the illustrious career of one of Greek basketball’s best ever player, Panathinaikos captain Dimitris Diamantidis.

Olympiakos therefore won the best-of-five series 3-1 for its second consecutive league title, and achieved it on Monday without injured Greece international Giorgos Printezis.

The Reds owe their 82-81 win mostly to their captain Vassilis Spanoulis, who after winning Game 2 for them a week earlier, he did it again with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that Panathinaikos did nothing about.

The Olympic Sports Hall was brimming with excitement and anticipation for the last home game in the career of Diamantidis, and witnessed the first ever finals game between the two giants of Greek sports to go into a second overtime.

The lead kept changing hands throughout the 50 minutes played, as both teams felt the pressure of the occasion. The regulation time ended 63-63 and the first overtime 71-71, after another buzzer-beater by Vangelis Mantzaris while the Panathinaikos players had started celebrating their... victory.

Spanoulis then punished them again at the end of the second overtime, when Panathinaikos led by two and failed to foul Spanoulis to prevent him from attempting a three-pointer. The man-of-the-finals took his chances, stepped back and away from Diamantidis’s marking and sank in the decisive shot.

More importantly, and unlike past record, the two clubs showed remarkable sportsmanship on several occasions in this series. This culminated on Monday in Panathinaikos’s leading figure Thanassis Giannakopoulos (uncle of its president) hugging Spanoulis, and Olympiakos owners Giorgos and Panayiotis Angelopoulos embracing Diamantidis.

AEK has won the third spot in the league with a 3-1 score in the series with Aris, after its 89-81 home victory on Saturday.

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