Olympiakos levels final series

Olympiakos defeated archrival Panathinaikos last night for the first time after four attempts this basketball season to level their best-of-five final series at 1-1. Playing before a fervent crowd at its Peace and Friendship Stadium, Olympiakos beat the defending champions with a comfortable 71-55 score. At one point during the game, fans filled the indoor arena with dense smoke after lighting a number of flares. In the pair’s previous encounters this season, Panathinaikos had won both home-and-away games, a cup clash, and the opening game in this final series. Emerging as a focused side last night, Olympiakos was solid both in defense and attack. The visitors, whose play lacked spark, were also affected by a poor three-point shooting record, usually one of the team’s strengths. Panathinaikos was on target for just eight of 28 three-point shots. Olympiakos held the advantage throughout the game, suggesting as early as the second term that it would not let this game slip. The Reds led 16-13 at the end of the first period, 33-20 at halftime, and 55-45 at the end of the third quarter, before ending the game 16 points ahead. In the evening’s other encounter, Maroussi, the Greek basketball season’s surprise team, established a 2-0 lead against Panionios with a 76-65 home win in a best-of-five series for the country’s third Euroleague spot next season. If the small Athens club reaches the prestigious European club-level competition, it will need to upgrade facilities to meet requirements set by the organizer. Maroussi began slowly to trail 24-14 at the end of the first term and 36-30 at halftime. A strong third term, however, put the home team ahead 58-48 at the break. Maroussi led 71-56 in the 37th minute before Panionios reduced for an 11-point defeat. Both pairs meet for the third games in their respective series tomorrow.