SPORTS

Eurocup for Athinaikos

Athinaikos basketball club on Thursday became the first Greek team to win a women’s European Cup, by beating Russia’s Nadezhda in the two-leg final of the Eurocup. This was Greece’s 15th continental trophy in club competitions, but all previous 14 had been won by men’s teams. The Vyronas side lost 57-53 at home on the night, but had an eight-point advantage from the first leg in Russia (65-57) and won the cup after an incredibly tense match. The Russians had the upper hand for most of the game in front of a capacity crowd at the Ergani court in eastern Athens and led by as many as six points in the last period (53-47), but never got any closer to the margin of victory they had needed. A three-pointer by Candice Wiggins for Athinaikos one minute from time eventually put an end to the Russians’ hopes. Nadezhda had a good scoring rate in three-pointers but Athinaikos made sure they kept the pace of the game at low levels to avoid a high-scoring match, while maintaining their supremacy in rebounds. Despite some jitters, Athinaikos eventually held on to win the Eurocup, sparking wild celebrations among the hosts’ fans and making coach Tzortzis Dikeoulakos proud. This victory highlights the progress of women’s basketball in this country, also illustrated last summer when Greece captured fifth spot in the European Championship in Latvia and qualified for this year’s World Championship. «This title means many things,» said Dikeoulakos, who until recently was also assistant to the national team coach. «The future belongs to those who believe in the magic of their dreams. And women’s basketball has a future in this country; it requires much more attention.»