SPORTS

Athens to host CEV final-four

The Olympic Sports Hall in Maroussi will host the final-four of volleyball’s CEV Cup next month, following Panathinaikos’s successful application to organize the tournament, the European Confederation announced yesterday. Never before has the final phase of Europe’s second-tier club competition been held in a stadium with a capacity that is close to 20,000 – and it is highly likely that Panathinaikos fans will fill every corner of the venue on the weekend of March 21-22. «Panathinaikos Athens will host the Final Four of the 2008/09 Men’s CEV Cup in the magnificent scenario of the OAKA – Olympic Indoor Hall, an arena with a capacity of about 18,000 spectators which hosted artistic gymnastics as well as the finals of the basketball tournaments at the 2004 Olympic Games,» reads the official CEV statement. In the semifinals on March 21, Panathinaikos will face Italy’s Cuneo and Lokomotiv Belgorod of Russia will play Spain’s Unicaja Almeria. The final and the third-place playoff will be staged on March 22. There was less positive news yesterday for EA Patras, who will have to travel to Turkey to play the hosts of the Challenge Cup final-four, Arkas, in the semifinal in Izmir on the same weekend of March 21-22. League action There is a full program of league games tonight for the A1 division, with leader Panathinaikos hosting Kifissia and Olympiakos, currently in second place, entertaining all-but-relegated Ethnikos Alexandroupolis. The most attractive games are likely to be Lamia, in fifth, clashing with EA Patras, in third, and the relegation battle between Apollon Kalamarias and Milon. Also tonight in-form Finikas meets Aris on Syros, while PAOK faces a Thessaloniki derby with champion Iraklis.