Panathinaikos produced its best performance in this Greek basketball league final series to beat Olympiakos 84-74 on Wednesday and level the score at 2-2. The league title will therefore be decided on Saturday in Piraeus.
More than anything, this was a missed opportunity for the Reds to clinch the title at the Panathinaikos home ground, given their supremacy in the first half and the first few minutes of the third period.
Yet just like in Game 2, the Greens enjoyed an impressive partial score of 14-1 (23-2 in Game 2) to turn things around in their favor and take the final series to a fifth game.
Olympiakos was by far the better team in the first half, leading by as many as 11 points (28-17), but allowing Panathinaikos to crawl back into the game thanks to the hosts' supremacy in rebounds: The Greens ended the match with 44 rebounds against Olympiakos's 28.
The first half ended 38-35 in Olympiakos's favor and the Reds stretched their lead to eight points (45-37) and were leading 60-55 at the start of the last period.
That was when the hosts got all fired up and scored a 14-1 partial score to lead 69-61 thanks to some great play by Mike Batiste and Dimitris Diamantidis, their team's top scorers (23 and 15 points respectively).
Olympiakos made a vain effort to cut the deficit, but in the end it could not stop Panathinaikos from winning by 10 points and setting up a decider at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The Reds' leading scorer was Acie Law with 16 points, while superstar Vassilis Spanoulis only managed to notch up eight points.
Just before the match, local reports suggested that Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic could stay on with the Greens for one more year. However, Obradovic said after the game that this was probably his last match at the Olympic Sports Hall.
Separately, a report in Israel stated that the club has approached Maccabi's Greek international Sofoklis Schortsanitis.Ekathimerini.com