SPORTS

AEK wins the Basketball Champions League on 50-year anniversary of its first Euro trophy

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

AEK won the third European trophy of its history and its first Basketball Champions League, triumphing 100-94 over Monaco in the final staged on Sunday in its home court, the Olympic Sports Hall in Athens.

While the tournament lags in significance and popularity to the Euroleague, it still offered a great quality of basketball and a spectacular Final Four in Athens that definitely had more fans at the stands than that of the Euroleague in Belgrade later this month.

The Yellows dominated the game from start to finish despite facing a team that was better throughout the season. Yet Monaco could not match the passion generated from the stands by the 20,000 AEK fans who held a party from start to finish.

AEK stormed into the final taking a nine-point lead which it preserved until half-time (53-44) and never allowed Monaco to level the score even when it went mighty close (60-59).

Although it nearly threw away its lead toward the end, just like in the semifinal against Murcia, AEK held on for a six-point win that came on the 50-year anniversary of its triumph at the 1968 Cup Winners Cup. It also landed the Saporta Cup in 2000.

Mike Green was voted the Most Valuable Player of the final, as well as being the top scorer with 19 points, while Manny Harris was awarded the distinction of being the MVP of the season in the Champions League in what was only its second version.

In a year where AEK has won the Greek Cup and the Champions League, it seems that Greece has got a third major force to add to Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, possibly opening up the league battle to come in the play-offs.

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