Panathinaikos staves off CSKA rally to claim title
Panathinaikos Athens yesterday lifted its second crown in three years by beating last season's champion CSKA 73-71 in a thrilling final in Berlin. One of the closest basketball title games in history went to the wire and wasn't decided until Ramunas Siskauskas's attempted three at the buzzer bounced out. That allowed Panathinaikos to celebrate its fifth Euroleague title, and the seventh for head coach Zeljko Obradovic, the head coach who has racked up the most wins in Euroleague history.
Vassilis Spanoulis was named Final Four MVP after scoring 13 points, including a clutch triple with less than three minutes to play. Panathinaikos had 10-0 runs in both the first and second quarters, leaving him to surge ahead, and Sarunas Jasikevicius and Drew Nicholas finished the second period with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Greens a 48-28 halftime lead.
They would prove to need that as CSKA held the Greens scoreless for more than 18 minutes, scoring 17 unanswered points. CSKA narrowed the gap to one in the closing seconds, but couldn't complete the comeback. Antonis Fotsis added 13 points and eight rebounds for the winners, and Jasikevicius and Dimitris Diamantidis scored 10 each. J.R. Holden paced CSKA with 14 points, and Trajan Langdon and Siskauskas each scored 13.
Panathinaikos dominated the second quarter and took a 48-28 halftime lead. It looked like the championship game would be a laugher.
Just seconds into the second half, Jasikevicus nailed another three - making it eight straight attempts without a miss for the Greens. CSKA soon found its footing, drew fouls on three straight possessions and, behind four Langdon free throws, cut the gap to 51-33. But the Panathinaikos assault continued as Fotsis rifled in another three. Langdon and Siskauskas continued to keep CSKA in the game. Langdon had seven in a 10-0 stretch to get to 56-43.
CSKA's defense continued to deny Panathinaikos, and when Siskauskas stepped up with a three with 26.2 seconds to play, CSKA was down just 70-69.
Forced to foul, CSKA sent Diamantidis to the line with 10.4 seconds to play and sank two, and Moscow was unable to catch Panathinaikos with its final possession.