SPORTS

Panathinaikos wins emphatically in Piraeus

Panathinaikos capitalized on the poor home showing by European champion Olympiakos to snatch victory in Game 1 of the basketball league finals on Friday with a 64-51 score.

The Reds were clearly affected by the pressure they felt on their shoulders to win the opening game of the best-of-five series in front of a capacity crowd at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus.

The Greens on the other hand were far better prepared on the psychological side and played a cautious game knowing that they had nothing to lose and plenty to win, as they did. The home advantage is now on their side.

Panathinaikos led from start to finish by slowing the game down to its favorite pace against a regularly high-scoring Olympiakos, who could not find the target from the 6.75-meter line to beat the tight Panathinaikos defense.

After an early 8-2 lead the Greens stretched their advantage to 13 points (29-16), before the first half ended with a 31-22 score.

Although Panathinaikos did seem frustrated in attack sometimes, the Euroleague champion was unable to make the most of that factor, resorting to rushed decisions in attack and contributing greatly to the particularly low score of Game 1. So despite the visitors getting stuck at 49 points for a long time in the third period, the hosts were unable to get past 40 points at the same period.

Soon enough the Greek Cup winner started scoring again to stretch its lead to as many as 19 points (61-42) that effectively sealed the outcome of the match.

Roko Ukic was the top scorer for the winners with 12 points, but it was James Gist who was by far the most impressive from the Greens, slamming one dunk after another for a total of 10 points, as well as collecting 11 rebounds.

Vassilis Spanoulis could do no better than 11 points for the Reds.

Game 2 will take place on Sunday evening at the Olympic Sports Hall at Maroussi.