Lavrio will face Panathinaikos in the Basket League finals after one of the most impressive comebacks in the local league’s playoff history.
Lavrio is a team from southeast Attica that has risen steadily from the lower divisions to the top flight, with the same coach, Christos Serelis. It managed to reach its first ever league final in the most spectacular of fashions, eclipsing favorite Promitheas Patras even though it trailed 2-0 in the best-of five series.
After the regular season’s 22 rounds Lavrio finished second only to champion Panathinaikos, its highest ever finishing, giving it home advantage in the semifinal series against Promitheas.
Nevertheless the Patra team, the most experienced and expensive of the two won Game 1 at Lavrio to snatch the home advantage, and then made it 2-0 with a hard-fought 68-66 victory in Game 2.
Lavrio halved the distance with an 85-79 home win, but just as Promitheas appeared destined for the finals, Lavrio shocked its host in Patra on Thursday with a 92-77 triumph that set up a super-tense Game 5 at Lavrio.
Eventually the “Miners” won that historic qualification to the finals with a 81-74 result on Saturday, and are preparing to face the absolute favorite, Panathinaikos.
The Greens were challenged all the way by AEK, as they lost Game 2 and looked destined to lose Game 4 as well at their common home court of the Olympic Sports Hall on Thursday.
However Panathinaikos captain Ioannis Papapetrou and former NBAer Mario Hezonja turned things around in the champions’ favor to win the game 78-71 and the series 3-1.