SPORTS

Panathinaikos beats Siena to make Euroleague final

Panathinaikos advanced to the final of the Euroleague after its 77-69 win over Italian champion Siena on May 6 in Barcelona.

The Greeks, considered the favorites in this Final Four, will be aiming at their sixth Euroleague trophy, as they face either Real Madrid or Maccabi Tel Aviv on May 8.

The more experienced and significantly more determined Greens overcame the resistance of the side that had eliminated Olympiakos in the quarterfinals thanks to good all-around play.

Despite being beaten in rebounds as the Italians were particularly acute in offensive rebounds during the first half, the Greek champion was super-tight in its defense in the second half and strangled the Siena attack on several occasions.

Led by an impressive Nick Calathes (17 points) and assisted by Mike Batiste (16) and Antonis Fotsis (14), Panathinaikos responded to the zone defense of Siena and dominated the second and third periods in scoring to secure the ticket to Sunday’s final.

Siena led in the first period with a score of 24-17, but Panathinaikos turned things around midway through the second to turn a 30-24 Siena lead into a 40-36 halftime score for the Greek team.

Coach Zeljko Obradovic’s players kept their collective foot firmly on the gas and led by as many as 12 points (52-40) before Siena made a last-ditch effort to reach the final, but to no avail.

Panathinaikos held on despite a relatively quiet game by its captain, Dimitris Diamantidis (eight points), and reached yet one more Euroleague final, the third in the last five years.