Panathinaikos wins Greek cup

Panathinaikos held on for an 81-79 win over Olympiakos in the basketball cup final last night, a triumph that kept the Athens basketball club on track for a fourth consecutive league-and-cup double. The victory over archrival Olympiakos, the third in as many encounters between the two clubs this season, came as consolation for Panathinaikos following last week’s shock exit from the Euroleague’s Round of 16 after the Greek club was crowned European champion a season earlier. Olympiakos has not won a title in any competition since 2002. Strict security measures were implemented for last night’s cup final, with a total of just 1,700 fans of both clubs seated well apart in the 10,000-capacity Hellenikon Stadium in southern Athens. Olympiakos never led in the game, which started tightly with emphasis on defensive play, but the Piraeus team clawed its way back to temporarily level late in the game. The defending champions gradually built momentum for a commanding 63-50 lead at the start of the fourth quarter with a three-point shot from power forward Costas Tsatsaris, a valuable return from injury who was voted the final’s MVP. But Olympiakos then gradually narrowed the gap to trail by five points, 67-62, with five minutes remaining. Center Yiannis Bourousis leveled, 78-78, with 14.9 seconds left on the clock. Panathinaikos playmaker Sarunas Jasikevicius, fouled with 12 seconds to go, was on target with both his free throws to put Panathinaikos ahead 80-78. With 5.7 seconds left, Lynn Greer netted one of two free throws for an 80-79 deficit, which his team failed to overcome in the last few seconds of play.

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