SPORTS

A lower-league Cretan club storms to basketball’s cup final

AGO Rethymno, of the second-tier A2 division, advanced to Greek basketball’s cup final last night with a convincing 85-60 victory over Kolossos Rhodes, also from the lower-division league, in a return-leg semifinal tie. Kolossos Rhodes had won the first encounter by one point, 74-73. The lower-division Cretan club now faces the daunting task of challenging Panathinaikos, the competition’s defending champion and a powerhouse in the Euroleague this season, in the tournament’s final. «I thank God for the joy provided to me at Rethymno during my four years to date. I thank the fans for the love they’ve shown to this team,» said Rethymno coach Stergios Koufos. «The players deserve all the credit. The difference in the score shows that we’re a better team. Things went well for us today.» Rethymno pounced at its opponent from the cup semifinal’s start to establish a seemingly invincible 17-1 lead within the first five minutes of play. But the visiting side narrowed the gap to 28-20 by the end of the first quarter and were within three points (33-30) of Rethymno four minutes into the second quarter. The home team remained calm under the intensifying pressure for a seven-point lead (43-37) at halftime. Rethymno’s impressive success rate for its three-point shots was a key factor. All in all, the Cretans were on target 16 times from 27 attempts behind the 6.25-meter line. Any sign of a possible comeback by Kolossos Rhodes began to fade as the third quarter progressed. By the 28th minute of play, Rethymno had established an 18-point lead (56-38), while the third quarter ended with an extremely commanding 61-45 lead for the home side. There was no response by Kolossos Rhodes to this domination in the final quarter. Rethymno maintained its lead to the end for the final score of 85-60.