P.A.O.K.- Panathinaikos 68-71 Greek Cup semi-final

Can it get more dramatic than that? It actually can’t since after a tough and cliff-hanging match, Vlado Jankovic scored a big buzzer beater behind the arc, to send the “Greens” to the big final where they will face Apollon Patras. The game was not impressive in the beginning since both teams were looking to have a good defensive formation, with Panathinaikos achieving to get on top relatively easy, taking advantage of their player’s quality and experience (12-17). PAOK was clearly more stressed and was unable to score in many cases, especially from behind the 3-point line. The home team had 0/11 at the end of the half, and they also lost many rebounds. On the positive end, Saloustros played great off-ball defense to Diamantidis, closing him down and finally forcing a substitution. Batista dominated inside the paint and was the first man to reach double digits before half time. The end of the first 20’ found “Dikefalos tou Vorra” trailing by 6 points, 27-33.

It was obvious that the home team would quickly recover and hit some three-pointer and so did Carter and Margaritis, countering an 11-point margin Panathinaikos built. Again however the visitors were on top, forcing their opponents to follow them until the end of the 3rd period, 44-50. The Greek Champions wanted to ensure a place to the big Final, playing good defense while their offensive choices were correct, with Diamantidis making his presence known. However Carter and mostly Langford were the players that did not gave up until the end, reaching the point difference to 3, 62-65. The game went to the last seconds, when Odum scored one of the two free throws, Margaritis took the offensive rebound after the second one and equalized for PAOK, with only 4 seconds left. Batista saw Jankovic who was open, Pappas drew two opponents inside the paint, leaving his teammate alone to make the big shot. Panathinaikos has won the Greek cup title 22 times and now will have the chance to make it one more, facing Apollon. Gist and Jankovic were on top of their game with both scoring 13 points, but MVP is the Greek forward due to his last second attempt, with Slaughter following with 12. On the other side, Kevin Langford was the top scorer with 18 points but he was also the only PAOK player with double-digits.