Panathinaikos takes lead in title series against Reds

Panathinaikos took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five final series for the league basketball title with a 78-67 home victory against archrival Olympiakos last night. The visitors remained within striking distance for a large part of the game before Panathinaikos began establishing a match-winning lead late in the game. Panathinaikos led 40-32 late in the second term, in the 17th minute. But three minutes later, Olympiakos went ahead 42-40 with a 12-point run. The first half ended with both sides tied at 42-42. After play resumed the hosts regained the lead with a two-point shot from Costas Tsartsaris and never surrendered it from then on. Three minutes into the third term Panathathinaikos had broken away to an 11-point lead with a three-point shot from Tsartsaris. One minute later, Panathinaikos’s Dejan Tomasevic and Olympiakos’s Quintel Woods were disqualified from the game after an incident between the two. Tomasevic pushed Woods and the Olympiakos forward retaliated with a punch. Panathinaikos maintained its sturdy lead for the game’s remainder. The Greens ended the third term with a commanding 68-54 lead before ending the game 11 points ahead. Interestingly, Olympiakos ended the game well ahead in the rebounds department, 33-26. The gap was even greater for the Reds in the first half. In the evening’s other encounter, Panionios kept its Euroleague dreams alive with an 89-82 win over visitors Maroussi. The victory helped Panionios reduce the deficit in the third-place playoff to 2-1. This means that the two teams will have to face each other at least once more in the best-of-five series. Panionios took an early lead and were 27-23 up at the end of the first period. The second quarter was equally tight. Maroussi only managed to chip a point off Panionios’s lead to go in 46-43 at halftime. Panionios kept their noses in front in the next quarter, which ended 65-61 and gave the home side a great platform to go on and win the game. The fourth games for both series are scheduled for Sunday.