Maroussi proves to be the season’s surprise

Maroussi basketball club has proven to be the surprise team of the A1 league this season, its latest accomplishment being to take Olympiakos all the way in their semifinal series. Following an 86-75 home win on Sunday, which tied the best-of-five semifinal at 2-2, Maroussi will now be hosted by Olympiakos tomorrow night in the deciding match. Defending champion Panathinaikos, a comfortable 3-0 winner over Panionios in its semifinal, awaits the victor in the final. Besides putting up an unanticipated fight against Olympiakos, Maroussi also upset Aris in the quarterfinals. Judging by the side’s splendid form of late, even if Maroussi fails to get past Olympiakos tomorrow night, it is likely to prove a big challenge for Panionios in the best-of-five series for third place, a coveted position that secures a spot in the Euroleague. «We’ve given [critics] the right and reasons to talk negatively about us for not being ready for the finals,» said a disappointed Olympiakos coach, Panayiotis Yiannakis, formerly of Maroussi. Sunday’s match was an even affair until half-time when Maroussi led 45-39 at the break. In the third term, the underdogs shone to take a convincing 14-point lead, 69-55, by the end of the term. Olympiakos did all it could to get back into the game in the final term but Maroussi just proved too strong. In yet another great performance toward the season’s end, Maroussi’s Branko Milisavljevic was in fine form. He scored 20 points, which included 10 from 10 free throws, and served up four assists. However, he was outdone in the scoring department by Jarod Stevenson who accumulated 21 points, including five three-pointers. Fellow American Lynn Greer scored a total of 17 points for Olympiakos. Maroussi coach Soulis Markopoulos believes his underdogs can pull off another surprise at Olympiakos’s Peace and Friendship Stadium tomorrow. «An entirely different and more difficult game, compared to the previous ones, awaits us. Both for us and our opponents. We know that we’re not the favorites,» said Markopoulos. «We have an opportunity which we’ve created with home victories, and are obliged to push our chances to the limit.»