SPORTS

Greek Euroleague triumphs overshadowed by Panathinaikos saga

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

The Euroleague has opened an investigation against Panathinaikos because its players turned their back in protest at the presentation of the teams.

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos shook off a series of poor results abroad to beat Real Madrid in Spain, after Panathinaikos’s victory over Baskonia was overshadowed by its raging standoff with the Euroleague that has the Greens considering winning and then quitting the tournament they have a long-term contract for.

Panathinaikos reduced its home match on Thursday against Baskonia to a game of minor significance as its clash with the Euroleague organizers has taken center stage not just in Greece but also in Europe.

The Greens beat the Basques 80-76 to move up to a 14-8 record, alone in fourth, after a rather unconvincing display at the Olympic Sports Hall. It took the personal heroics of Kenny Gabriel in the first half to keep the Greek champion in contention, with four consecutive triples to overturn a 28-21 deficit.

Then in the second Nick Calathes took over leading the host to a 67-53 lead at the end of the third quarter. Despite their late rally the Spaniards could not overturn the Greens’ advantage in the end.

Gabriel and James Gist made 15 points each.

Off the court, Panathinaikos threatened once again on Friday to depart from the Euroleague next season unless the 12-month ban imposed on owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos is overturned.

Plans for a fan referendum have now been shelved with Giannakopoulos stating on Friday that the fans gave their vote with their attitude (jeering the Euroleague anthem) on Thursday. The Euroleague has also opened an investigation against Panathinaikos because its players turned their back at the presentation of the teams.

However Giannakopoulos is clearly doing his best to steer his team back to the summit of the Euroleague with greater persistence, as this week he also reached a deal with power forward Adreian Payne and welcomed back last year’s precious asset Mike Jones.

Olympiakos stunned host Real Madrid to win 80-79 on Friday for its first win in the Spanish capital after nine years.

The Reds produced a very encouraging performance that was a far cry from the four bad losses in a row it had previously suffered on the road.

A near-perfect first half for the Greeks saw them advance by six at half-time (45-39) by frustrating the hosts’ attack, the second-best in the Euroleague, while scoring one triple after another.

Real balanced things out in the second half, with the lead exchanging hands. It all boiled down to the last 15 seconds, when Olympiakos needed to defend the last offense of Real and did so perfectly to keep the hosts at bay.

Giorgos Printezis was the top scorer for the Greeks with 21 points. His team has 15 wins from 22 games, staying second at the table.

In the Basketball Champions League Aris lost 70-66 to Oostende at home on Wednesday in its last game in the competition.

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