SPORTS

Greek basketball descends into farce

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

Kymi players did not have to play Panathinaikos to win in Athens and surprisingly stay up.

TAGS: Basketball

The Basket League was thrown into chaos on Wednesday, after the personal threats to a referee at his home by Olympiakos fans led to his withdrawal from the Olympiakos vs Promitheas match, which in turn provoked Panathinaikos’s forfeiting of its game with Kymi. The situation will hopefully be addressed at an emergency meeting of the league on Thursday.

Olympiakos had warned it would not play any game that any of the three referees it has blacklisted would officiate. That included Panayiotis Anastopoulos, who was appointed to officiate the game with Promitheas on Wednesday, but late on Tuesday a number of Olympiakos fans, riding motorbikes, arrived at his house and voiced very serious threats against him that on Wednesday afternoon forced him to withdraw from the match.

That resulted in his substitution by another referee, the match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium went ahead as normal and Olympiakos has avoided relegation for now, as in case it would forfeit the game it would find itself in the A2 division.

Archrival Panathinaikos wondered publicly why the state and the league are not punishing those responsible for the attack on the referee and decided to forfeit its game with Kymi at home. In a statement it added it would not return to playing in the Basket League unless the situation reverts to normal and the guilty parties are punished. It even made a personal call to the Prime Minister to replace the Deputy Sports Minister, saying he has been proven unable to fulfill his duties.

That meant Kymi won the match with the Greens with a walkover (20-0) and thereby managed to stay in the top flight, while Lavrio is going down despite its 96-76 home win over Ifaistos Limnou on Wednesday at the end of the regular season. Now Lavrio is threatening the league with legal action.

If Panathinaikos is deducted six points, as it is supposed to for forfeiting the game, AEK will surprisingly finish top of the table in the regular season, thanks also to its 106-69 victory at relegated Kolossos Rhodes.

Peristeri is supposed to finish second, having beaten PAOK 83-65 at home, and Panathinaikos will finish third, destined to play... Olympiakos in the first round of the play-offs. The Reds finished sixth, thrashing Promitheas 86-59.

In other games Holargos downed host Panionios 110-90 on Tuesday and Rethymno ensured it stayed up with a big 87-81 win at Aris on Wednesday.

ESAKE, the league of the professional basketball teams, has called an emergency meeting on Thursday in the hope of salvaging some of the Basket League’s prestige. It may well be too late already.

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