Panathinaikos wins title again

Defending champion Panathinaikos was crowned Greek basketball champion for the eighth time in nine seasons last night with an 82-70 victory over archrival Olympiakos for a 3-0 win in their best-of-five final series. The victory also handed Panathinaikos, a three-time European champion, its second successive league-and-cup double triumph. Last night’s encounter, for which Panathinaikos fans packed their team’s OAKA arena in anticipation of victory and ensuing title celebrations, was interrupted for 15 minutes after the visiting team cleared the floor and made for the dressing rooms when objects were tossed onto the court. Three Olympiakos players, Dimitris Kalaitzidis, Nikos Argyropoulos and Nikos Barlos, were apparently injured. The game’s referees threatened to empty Panathinaikos’s arena of its fans, but following lengthy negotiations all resumed as normal. It is likely that the club will be fined for the incidents. Panathinaikos’s players, perhaps comforted by their team’s resounding 2-0 lead in the final series going into last night’s game, needed some time to take command. The defending champion did not truly find its way until the third quarter. Slovenian shooting guard Jaka Lakovic, the game’s top scorer, took charge with 18 points in just over 33 minutes of total playing time. In the Greek basketball league’s remaining contest, Maroussi, coached by Panayiotis Yiannakis – who, in his other role as Greece coach, led the national team to the European title last summer – defeated visiting Aris 71-56 to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series for third place in the standings and a Euroleague berth next season. The two teams meet again on Saturday.

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