SPORTS

Panathinaikos captures its fifth Euroleague trophy

Panathinaikos overcame Olympiakos in the semifinal and CSKA Moscow in the final to win its fifth Euroleague basketball title last night in Berlin. Skipper Dimitris Diamantidis lifted the cup after a tense final in front of 15,000 fans, 4,000 of whom were Greek. The atmosphere was superb as the players and coach Zeljko Obradovic celebrated the trophy like young children. CSKA started the game with a 10-4 advantage as all its first few attacks found the target. Panathinaikos led for the first time at 13-12 and rapidly extended its lead to end the first period leading 21-16. The second period saw the Greeks scoring one-three-pointer after another, to take the lead to 20 points at halftime (48-28). Early in the second half Panathinaikos stretched the difference to 23 points (56-33) courtesy of an impressive nine out of 15 shots outside the 6.25-meter zone. However, just as the final was beginning to look like a one-sided affair, CSKA scored 17 unanswered points, leaving Panathinaikos without scoring for eight minutes, to take the score to 56-50. Yet Stratos Perperoglou scored six straight points to breathe life back into the Greeks who led 65-52. A crucial three-pointer by Vassilis Spanoulis gave Panathinaikos a 68-60 lead but Matjaz Smodis brought CSKA back into the game, cutting the deficit to 70-69. Two free throws from Dimitris Diamantidis with 10 seconds to go made it 72-69 for Panathinaikos. One more free throw by Sarunas Jasikevicius, the Lithuanian player who shone in the semifinal on Friday, made the score 73-71. The last shot by another Lithuanian, CSKA’s Ramunas Siskauskas, did not find the target, gifting the win to the Greek champion. In a very emotional moment at the end, Diamantidis called over unused substitute Frangiskos Alvertis so that they could lift the cup together in the last European competition of Alvertis, the only Panathinaikos player to have been a member of all five Euroleague-winning teams.