Olympiakos defeats AEK 82-74, in double OT

Undermanned Olympiakos defeated AEK 82-74, in double overtime, in yesterday’s opening game of the playoff finals for the basketball league championship. Olympiakos has taken back the home advantage in the best-of-five series, but will be obliged to play next game before empty stands at home, as punishment for incidents during last Sunday’s game against Panathinaikos. Yesterday morning, a sports judge decided that guards Milan Tomic and Alphonso Ford, and forward Stephane Risacher would not play in the evening match. The three were involved in fighting against their Panathinaikos opponents. Center Patrick Femerling was absolved of blame. Panathinaikos’s Dejan Bodiroga, Giorgos Kalaitzis and Lazaros Papadopoulos were also banned for one game. Olympiakos coach Slobodan Subotic was fined 2,000 euros and the team was ordered to play one home game behind closed doors. The match yesterday was close throughout, with AEK leading most of the way and Olympiakos countering. AEK failed to put the match away in the first half, when it had the chance, and Olympiakos stormed back to take a 10-point lead (52-42) six and a half minutes from time. AEK, however, came back to tie the game at 56 at the end of regulation time. The first overtime ended 66-66. During the second overtime, Olympiakos was playing with just one reserve guard and AEK led 70-69. From then on, it proceeded to miss four straight possession and the match turned Olympiakos’s way. Forward Dimitris Papanikolaou, the match’s top scorer with 21 points, made the decisive contribution at this stage. AEK’s offense was more balanced but its players missed too many open shots in the end.