Panathinaikos return to the top (pics+vid)

Panathinaikos have returned to the top of the Greek League by winning their 14th championship in the last sixteen seasons of the competition in a great game inside the court, which unfortunately never ended due to crowd trouble.

Panathinaikos have returned to the top of the Greek League by winning their 14th championship in the last sixteen seasons of the competition in a great game inside the court, which unfortunately never ended due to crowd trouble.

The tension at the stands started well before the tip-off when a flare thrown by Olympiacos fans hit Michael Bramos at the foot while he was warming up. The player left for the lockers, where it was established he was not hurt.

To the game report now where Acie Law started the game at the point and Olympiacos took a quick 5-0 lead. However Panathinaikos started hitting their shots from behind the arc and tied the game at 8-8. The Greens continued to be fluid in offensen and took a 11-13 lead just after the 6th minute of the game. With a couple of more threepointers and free throws, the visitors pulled away by double digits, 14-24 but it was Printezis who scored for the final score of the 1st qyarter, 17-24.

Thank to Hines involvement in both ends of the court, Olympiacos grinded the points difference down to two, 22-24. Panathinaikos coach kept his team fresh by rotating his lineup and a bucket by Curry made the score 24-28. However Olympiacos quickly equalised thanks to a steal and fast break by Spanoulis, 28-28. Stratos Perperoglou gave Olympiacos their second biggest lead of the game, 36-32. The four points difference remained before the two teams withdrew to the locker rooms for half time, 39-35.

Panathinaikos took  charge in the second half thanks to Diamantidis, 41-43 but a few minutes later the lead changed hands again thanks to a threepointer by young gun Papanikolaou, 51-50. With two minutes to go, the lead changed hands several times thanks to consecutive buckets by Law, Papanikolaou, Ukic and Maciulis but it was Sloukas’ two free throws who ended the third quarter, by keeping Olympiacos at the helm of the game, 61-60.

Panathinaikos legionaires took action in the early fourth quarter and thanks to Lasme and Curry points, Panathinaikos took the lead, 61-64. Then, thanks to two back-to-back threepointers by Diamantidis Panathinaikos expanded their lead to seven points, 63-70. However Olympiacos was quick to react and with a 9-0 run reclaimed the lead, 72-70 with just three minutes to go. But Panathinaikos toughened their defence, while finding ways to score at the other end of the court and took a 72-76, something which wasn’t taken lightly by the home crowd. {jathumbnail off}

It was at this point that a hellfire of flaires, pyrotechnics, bottles, keys and other objects rianed over the Panathinaikos bench, something which made the visitors leave the court in a hurry in order to avoid serious injuries. You can see the incident in the video below:

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As claimed by Panathinaikos, one of their players and two staff members were injured during the incident. The referees of the game ordered the evacuation of the arena in order for the game to be continues and concluded. However with the vast majority of the fans obeying, around 100 Olympiacos fans disregarded the decision and the pleads by Olympiacos players, staff and owners and remained at the stands. As a result and after about one hour of interruption, the refs abandoned the game, awarding the win to Panathinaikos.

Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas, Kyle Hines and Acie Law visited Panathinaikos locker room to congratulate the new champions while Stephane Lasme pointed out that the Olympiacos was the greatest opponent he had faced during his career and that he hopes to do it again.

It is worth mentioning that not even during the Zeljko Obradovic era did Panathinaikos sweep Olympiacos in the finals with a home disadvantage. However, this could be the first time in a while that both the Greek giants can claim to have a successful season. Olympiacos won a back-to-back Euroleague while Panathinaikos won the double for the first time wince 2009 and reclaimed their throne.

Around 4000 fans welcomed Panathinaikos squad at the hotel in Athens centre and celebrated the championship with the players.

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