SPORTS

Apollon Patras is relegated

Apollon Patras bid farewell to the top flight of Greek basketball yesterday as it lost 81-64 to Olympia in Larissa and is now relegated along with Makedonikos to the A2 division. AEK and Larissa celebrated their A1 survival with victories, while Aris and Olympiakos continued their fight for the second spot with home wins, in the penultimate round of the regular season. Patras will revert to having only one team in A1 division, as Apollon, the most historic basketball club of Greece’s third city, has mathematically gone down. Costas Keramidas’s team failed to rise to the occasion of their must-win match at Olympia and succumbed to a more determined home side that actually had little to play for yesterday. The other Patras team, Olympiada, lost at home to the other Larissa club, AEL, 69-73, but stayed eighth in the table. It must now beat Panellinios in Athens on Saturday, in the last round of games, to ensure it enters the playoffs of the top eight teams. AEK managed to overcome PAOK 97-92 at home, but behind closed doors, fighting off PAOK’s late surge which almost completely wiped out AEK’s lead of over 20 points in the third period. Panionios took advantage of PAOK’s defeat and climbed to fourth thanks to its dramatic win at home over Maroussi, 69-67. For Panionios to hold on to the fourth spot, it needs to beat Aegaleo away on Saturday; its prize will be the home advantage in the first phase of the playoffs. Aris tightened its grip on the second spot of the league, thanks to its emphatic 79-64 win in Thessaloniki over Panellinios. Former Greek international Yiannis Yiannoulis was the man of the match for Andrea Mazzon’s team, scoring 13 points with 5/5 two-pointers and 3/3 free throws. If Aris beats relegated Apollon in Patras on Saturday it will finish second. Level with Aris on points but behind on head-to-head record is Olympiakos, which nearly suffered another home defeat to lowly Aegaleo yesterday. The Reds led by more than 15 points at times, but in the end Aegaleo rallied to lose by just five (82-77). Olympiakos fans again called for coach Pini Gershon to resign. Finally, leaders Panathinaikos enjoyed a crashing 106-44 away win over last club Makedonikos, as it warms up for next week’s Euroleague Final Four.