SPORTS

Perfect record maintained

Panathinaikos, the Euroleague’s only undefeated side this season, maintained its perfect record with an 83-74 win over lowly Union Olimpija Ljubljana in Athens last night. The Greek basketball club, a three-time European champion, with all titles won over the past decade, has already secured its place in the Euroleague’s next stage but is firing for top spot in Group B and a favorable seeding in the draw for the next stage of competition. Aris further bolstered its chances of a berth in the next round with an 80-72 home win over Eldo Napoli that lifted the Thessaloniki team to equal fourth spot in Group C with a 5-5 record. Aris is tied in the group’s fourth spot with Pau-Orthez, a 78-58 loser last night against group front-runner and defending champion CSKA Moscow in Russia. The top five clubs from each of the Euroleague’s three eight-team groups will be joined by the sixth-placed team with the best record in the next stage of play. Sixteen qualifiers will be divided into four groups of four in the lead-up to the quarterfinals. Olympiakos, the country’s other Euroleague representative, is hosted by Polish club Prokom Sopot tonight in a Group A clash that could prove crucial for the Greek team’s pursuit of top spot. Group A front-runner Tau Ceramica went into its Round 10 clash later last night against last-placed Rhein Energie one win ahead of second-placed Olympiakos. The Greek team has won seven of its nine games. Prokom, currently fifth in Group A with a 4-5 record, will be firing to nurture its hopes of a place in the next stage. «It’s a good thing that we’re playing our first game away after the [holiday] break because we will be more focused and serious,» said Olympiakos coach Pinhas Gershon. «It is definitely not going to be easy to escape from Poland with a win. Prokom is a very tough opponent that has made continual progress over the last couple of years and has many experienced players,» he added. This season’s Final Four tournament will be held in Athens between May 4 and 6 at the 18,000-seat OAKA Olympic Arena. A first installment of approximately 5,000 tournament tickets, offered online at www.euroleague.net several days ago, sold in less than 48 hours. Organizers plan to soon market a second installment. A total of between 8,000-10,000 tournament tickets have been allotted for online sales.