European champion Olympiakos is just one step from returning to the top in Greece after 15 years, following its emphatic 84-72 win over Panathinaikos in Game 3 of the league finals on Sunday in Piraeus.

The Reds now lead 2-1 in the best-of-five series and can clinch the title either in Game 4 on Wednesday at Panathinaikos’s home court, or in Game 5 that will be staged back in Piraeus.

The hosts imposed their game from the start, leading 20-8 and then 29-18 at the end of the first quarter. Such was their determination in offensive rebounds that they outnumbered their defensive ones.

Panathinaikos had a miserable game in the first half as its unforced errors, its weak defense and its inability to follow Olympiakos’s pace meant it conceded as many as 53 points in the first half (53-35).

The Greens’ fight-back in the third period proved short-lived, as the score turned from 55-43 to 69-51 after 30 minutes.

With the match already settled, the Reds put their collective foot off the gas in the fourth period allowing the Greens to reduce the deficit from 23 points to 12 in the end. It seems clear that Olympiakos has got the upper hand in the series and could even clinch it away from home on Wednesday.

Vassilis Spanoulis led the scoring with 16 points for Olympiakos, seconded by Giorgos Printezis with 15. Dimitris Diamantidis notched up 12 for Panathinaikos.