Panathinaikos beat CSKA with 82-69 in a game held to honour Fragiskos Alvertis’ retirement who has been with the Greek club for the past 19 years.
35-year old Alvertis has won 25(!!) titles with Panathinaikos, including 5 Euroleagues and 11 Greek Championships. A big celebration in-front of 20.000 fans was organised to give tribute to his accomplishments and loyalty to the club.
Here are some bits and pieces of the event:
-The jersey with the number “4” was withdrawn and put on the ceiling of the OAKA Arena.
-The ceremony started when Alvertis was replaced by Panathinaikos’ next captain, Dimitris Diamantidis, in the 26th minute of the game. Alvertis practicaly passed on captain honours to Diamantidis and the crowd shouted the name of the latter.
-Sarunas Jasikevicius showed up in the arena (he didn’t play) in the jersey of Alvertis with the number 4 on it.
-The Green fans unveiled a banner saying “We hope the buzzer won’t sound, and our captain won’t retire.”
-Alvertis scored his sole basket, typically a three-pointer, after almost 6 minutes in the game, putting the fans on a frenzy.
-Greens also cheered for Ramunas Siskauskas of CSKA.
“When I came to Panathinaikos 19 years ago, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever experience such feelings, that I would meet a crowd like you. It is not important to tell you that I am touched, you all know how much joy we had all those years. If I could start from the beginning to pay back all that you have offered me, I would gladly start now. And remember something: we stick together in joy and sorrow!” said Alvertis to the fans right after his jersey was withdrawn.
Thanassis Giannakopoulos, one of the presidents of Panathinaikos, also talked to the crazed 20.000 fans. “My dear friends. This is one of your own speaking: Thanassis! It is an honour for me to give tribute to the biggest athlete of Panathinaikos. From deep in my heart I thank him for all that he has given. He shall remember that Panathinaikos’ fans love him, have him in their hearts and shall remember him for ever.” he said.
Vassilis Spanoulis: It is a big moment. I wish more players can have such a fairwell. Like he has said himself, everything has a beginning and an end. He should be proud for such an end of a career.
Nick Calathes: He is a huge player. It is an honour for me to have played with him, even if only for one game.
Drew Nicholas: It is a special day. He stayed with the same club for almost two decades. He is worth the honour and everything that’s happened today.
Stratos Perperoglou: He is Panathinaikos’ living history. I am lucky to have participated today. He is somewhat a teacher and I hope he stays with the club for many years to come.
Nikola Pekovic: I am happy to have been a part of this celebration. I thank him for having him as a teamate. Withdrawing the jersey was excellent.
Sarunas Jasikevicius (asked if he would like to see his jersey up there aswell): Yeah, sure…no problem… I just need 16 more years, about 400 wins and I will be around 55. I think I can do it!
Zeljko Obradovic: I am glad that Fragiskos will continue with the club from a different post and I hope that he will stay for another 19 years. In fact he should stay as long as he wants to and help the club as he has done for so many years now.
Panathinaikos 82 – 69 CSKA
Panathinaikos: Alvertis 3, Tepic 5, Spanoulis 7, Perperoglou 9, Shermadini 13, Fotsis 2, Bogris 2, Nicholas 11, Verginis 10, Diamantidis 4, Pekovic 13, Calathes 3, Karamolegos
CSKA: Kurbanov 6, Keyru 4, Siskauskas 6, Holden 3, Ponkrashov 7, Vorontsevich 8, Langdon 18, Shved 5, Sokolov 5, Planinic 11, Radenovic 1, Zabelin