Reds win basketball cup

Olympiakos has finally broken the jinx of the last few years and won its first trophy in basketball after eight years, once again the Greek Cup, by seeing off holder Panathinaikos 68-64 in last Saturday’s final. Despite most people’s fears about fan violence during the game, this time policing proved adequate and Olympiakos allocated its allotment of tickets (each costing 75 euros) to season ticket-holders only. On the court the Reds were trailing for the first 15 minutes of the game, with Panathinaikos leading at times by as many as five points, but when Olympiakos stepped up a gear there was no way back for the Greens. The last time Panathinaikos led was at 25-22, with Olympiakos prevailing in rebounds in both offense and defense, while shutting out the main stars of the Greens, Vassilis Spanoulis and Dimitris Diamantidis. Milos Teodosic led the new cup winners to victory with his 22 points as Olympiakos had to sweat in the end in order to defend the 11-point lead (61-50) it built a few minutes from time. Panathinaikos came as close as within two points, with 10 seconds remaining. Yet two free throws by Most Valuable Player Teodosic secured Olympiakos’s eighth Greek Cup. In the previous two finals, staged at the Elliniko Sports Hall, just like last Saturday, Panathinaikos had emerged as winner, while this time it was the turn of the team that has generally played better basketball in Greece and Europe than the Greens, last year’s triple-crown winners. «The lads were really up for it. They wanted to offer it to the fans and to our owners. The difficulties we face in every game make us a better team and we have made great progress in the last two years,» said Olympiakos coach Panayiotis Giannakis. His opposite number, Zeljko Obradovic, congratulated Olympiakos on a «deserved victory.»

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