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Panathinaikos, Euroleague Champions 2009!

We have a new champion, Panathinaikos Athens. The Greens of Athens overcame the obstacle of the (former) defending champions CSKA Moscow in a thrilling game which was decided by a missed shot in the dying seconds.

Panathinaikos started the game with two point guards who fed the ball to Pekovic who then passed to CSKA’s weak side outside the 6.25 lines. That resulted in a very good start for Panathinaikos while CSKA was struggling in creation because although JR Holden scored some easy points he often run the clock down dribbling too long.

Things didn’t get any better for CSKA later on and the difference started building up and Panathinaikos established a steady double digits points lead since the 2nd quarter of the game. Sarunas Jasikevicius run the pick n roll smoothly while the double teaming of Panathinaikos bigs by Messina led to many free threepointers by the Greens who had tremendous night from the arch. Things got even worse for CSKA when Nicholas scored yet another threepointer at the buzzer to give Panathinaikos a 20 points lead at the end of the first half.

The third quarter started by yet another threepointer for Panathinaikos, this time from Sarunas Jasikevicius and when everybody thought the game was pretty much over at that time, the heart of the champions talked and CSKA refused to give up. They started to cut down the point margin with a superb, and in many cases hard, defense which blacked out Panathinaikos offense. At the same time CSKA was getting easy point from the charity line and managed to finish the 3rd quarter being behind just by 10.

The fourth quarter started in the same way the third quarter ended, but this time thanks to Planinic who helped CSKA to run their offense better while Panathinaikos players had bad choices and many turnovers. Pekovic was benched while Tsartsaris and Fotsis were fouled out, so that left Panathinaikos with just Mike Batiste fighting under the rims while Zeljko Obradovic chose a shorter lineup with three guards to move the ball better over the perimeter.

CSKA made one last effort for the win and put the ball in Ramunas Siskauskas’ hands who did his best to cut the lead down to one point with a threepointer but it was another Lihuanian, Sarunas Jasikevicius who gave Panathinaikos a 2 points lead, making one out of two free throws. At the timeout which followed Messina ordered his players to feed Siskauskas who would try to steal the game in the last six seconds with a threepointer but unfortunately for CSKA, and luckily for Panathinaikos, the ball didn’t drop in the net and Panathinaikos won their 5th Euroleague title of their history and their 4th in the 1st decade of the 21st century.

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