Olympiakos wins Greek basketball

Olympiakos wins Greek basketball

ATHENS - The Associated Press
Olympiakos wins Greek basketball

Olympiakos captain Vasilis Spanoulis (R) lifts the cup after his team won the deciding game of the Greek Basketball League playoff against Panathinaikos in Athens. AP photo

Olympiakos won the Greek basketball league for the first time in 15 years by beating defending champion Panathinaikos 82-76 in the finals decider on June 2.

Panathinaikos had dominated the league in that span, winning 13 of 14 titles to add to its five Euroleague trophies.

Olympiakos’ Game 5 victory on home court set off wild celebrations without incident in the crowd of 14,000, and both coaches embraced warmly.

Olympiakos coach Dusan Ivkovic, 68, has coached Panathinaikos’ 52-year-old guide Zeljko Obradovic and was best man at the latter’s wedding.

“This (championship) is for our wonderful supporters. They deserve it,” Ivkovic said.

In the years between Olympiakos’ league titles, it changed owners, went through nine coaches and used 136 players in a quest to regain supremacy that, until last month, had yielded just two Greek Cup titles and frustrated its fans to the point that two finals series, the last one last year, were abandoned after fans rioted inside Olympiakos’ arena.

Ivkovic, who won the triple crown of Greek league, cup and Euroleague titles in 1997 only to be dumped in 1999 after losing the league finals on home court, was brought back in 2010 and set about revamping the team to break Panathinaikos’ domination.

Last year he went through the regular season unbeaten but their rioting fans ended the playoffs.
Olympiakos lost the Greek Cup to Panathinaikos in April but last month won its second Euroleague title, also its first in 15 years.

Olympiakos earned home-court advantage for the league finals again, and won Games 1 and 3 at home easily, and lost Game 2 by only three points and Game 4 by 10.

Two minutes into the final period of Game 5, Pero Antic’s buzzer-beating three gave Olympiakos a 16-point lead at 75-59.

But Panathinaikos still had some fight in it and, with 2:34 left, a three by forward Stratos Perperoglou closed the gap to 80-76. Half a minute later, guard Nick Calathes missed a wide open three that would have cut the lead to a single point. Only one basket was scored in the remaining time, a breakaway dunk by Olympiakos’ Giorgos Printezis.