In a city where protests are widespread due to the nation being close to bankruptcy, Athens needed this.
Even the Greek A1 All-Star Game has been cancelled due to funding.
But while the Athens derby won’t stop the troubles facing the country of Greece, financially. Olympiacos and Panathinaikos served up a thriller that made the fans inside the Peace and Friendship Stadium forget about the dangers for a few hours.
Olympiacos never trailed and led by as many as 20 points in the game – but they nearly threw it away – leaving the visitors from the Green side of Athens a chance to steal it at the buzzer. Mike Batiste’s shot in the corner (pictured) dropped and was judged to be a triple by the referee from the far side.
The referee closest to the baseline though wanted a second look, and replays showed Batiste’s right foot was clearly on the line as he shot it and the basket was rightfully called as a two-pointer leaving the Olympiacos fans happy, and the Panathinaikos supporters angry.
Romain Sato hit a triple from the same spot as Batiste’s failed three-point attempt with 24 seconds left to give Panathinaikos hope at 76-75, but free-throws with 22 ticks left from Kostas Sloukas restored Olympiacos’ three-point cushion, and that was how it stayed.
The game was an entertaining one in the final minutes, but all-in-all, Olympiacos were the better team on the night.
Georgios Printezis led the Reds scoring with 13 points with Evangelos Mantzaris contributing with 11. Both hit three triples from four attempts.
Batiste led all scorers in vain with 16, but his jump stop cost him the chance of overtime as he went a little more forward than he wanted to go. Ian Vougioukas hit 12 points, off the bench for the visitors.
Olympiacos stay top of the A1 league on a 16-1 record and go clear of Panathinaikos, who drop to 14-2.