Panathinaikos back in the Final Four

Three-time European champion Panathinaikos confronts defending champion Maccabi tonight in the Euroleague’s Final Four in Moscow for a place in Sunday’s final. Moscow club CSKA plays Tau Ceramica in the other semifinal, also tonight. Though not heavily tipped by pundits for this year’s title, Panathinaikos, crowned European champion in 1996, 2000 and 2002, believes it can add a fourth European title to its impressive collection. «We’re not here for tourism, but to take back the cup,» said Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic at yesterday’s news conference. Unquestionably Europe’s most successful basketball club in recent times, Panathinaikos has reached the Final Four seven times over the past 11 years. Questioned by reporters about his team’s remarkable consistency, Obradovic said: «The secret’s always the same – the players need to perform well. The motive also remains the same. We’ve played well all season and are glad to be here among Europe’s best teams.» He described tonight’s opponent as a «fabulous team» whose roster was loaded with quality.