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Panathinaikos retains basketball crown with 11-point win

By George Georgakopoulos

Panathinaikos came from 2-1 down in the final series to win the 34th Greek league title in its history beating Olympiakos 82-71 on Wednesday, and 3-2 in the best-of-five series, thanks to an imposing performance at home.

This was the 15th championship title for the Greens in the last 17 years. They also completed the domestic double for the second season in succession and sparked a wild party at the end, with the lifting of the trophy in the Olympic Sports Hall.

The Greens played one of their best games this season and appeared determined not to let the advantage they obtained through their away win on Sunday slip through their fingers.

In an uncharacteristic scoring crescendo in the first half, Panathinaikos notched up 53 points, approaching its average tally for the whole of each game against Olympiakos in the previous finals this season (63.5 points).

Olympiakos led 8-4 at the start of the game, but the Greens played to their maximum after that to advance 22-12, then 41-26 and conclude the first half with a 21-point margin (53-32).

The host enjoyed an amazing 70 percent shooting rate in two-pointers (14/20) in the first half, building what proved to be an unassailable lead for this final of finals of the Greek league.

As usual, Panathinaikos dropped a gear (or two) in the second half, opting for maintaining its lead instead of extending i,t by focusing more on its defense. Olympiakos improved its shooting rate to reduce the deficit to 14 points at the end of the third quarter (70-56).

In the fourth quarter Olympiakos started closing the gap to get to within six points three minutes from the end (74-68) by outrunning Panathinaikos in attack. However the Greens recovered quickly to reopen an 11 point-gap (79-68) with two minutes on the clock and preserve it till the end.

The Panathinaikos triumph was sealed 20 seconds from time with a spectacular slam dunk by James Gist, one of the three most valuable players for the champions in this series of finals along with Dimitris Diamantidis and Stephane Lasme.

Jonas Maciulis was the Greens top scorer on the night with 15 points, while Matt Lojeski fared better scoring 17 points for Olympiakos.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday June 4, 2014 (22:13)  
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