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The first "Final Four"

Teams aiming high have a common goal.. All of them aim the Euroleague Final Four. The Final Four as we know it now was established on 1988. Panathinaikos reached for the first time in an informal Final Four many years earlier. It was back in 1972. And his position in Champions' Cup (as it was called back then) semifinals was sealed on the 17th of February 1972.

First Steps

Panathinaikos participated in Champions' Cup. the first obstacle was Amicale from Luxemburg and then the Greens faced Maccabi Tel Aviv. They won 81-73 in Athens and they flew to Israel. Arriving at the legendary Yad Eliyahu Arena they saw that there was still work in progress in order to put a roof. The Israelis answered to Panathinaikos' worries that the arena would be ready on time for the game. And they were proven right. It was the first game played in Yad Eliyahu Arena with a roof! Maccabi Tel Aviv won the game 81-80, but it was not enough. Greens advanced to the next round.

Getting to the semifinals

Panathinaikos was at the same group with Lier (Belgium), Yugoplastika Split (ex Yugoslavia) and Slavia Prague (ex Czechoslovakia). Things were complicated enough in the group reaching the two last days. In the first game against Slavia in Prague the teams got to a tie (74-74) and just five players played the whole game for Panathinaikos. The Greens got the lead 45-38 at halftime, they led by 4 one minute before the end (74-70) with Kefalos scoring from the free throw line, but the hosts tied the game with Amer and Ruzicka. The whole delegation was waiting impatiently at the hotel for the result of the other game between Lier and Jugoplastika. Back in days without mobile phones or internet. At one point the coach of the team, Kostas Mourouzis was asked at the reception desk. After hours of waiting everybody expected just a word from Mourouzis. He didn't speak a word. He just raised his hand forming a V with his fingers. It was enough. The team began celebrating, knowing that they needed to typically seal their place in the semifinals in Athens.

The second game started at "zero" since the first game was a tie. Panathinaikos was determined to get the victory. And along with it a place in the semifinals of Champions' Cup. Greens started off on a 18-10 (7') and they were up by 18 at the half time (51-33). Slavia couldn't threat Panathinaikos. The clover sealed the victory with the final 99-73, behind 31 points by Kirkland and 30 by Iordanidis.

Panathinaikos (Mourouzis): Kephalos 12, Kirkland 31, Panagiotarakos 4, Iordanidis 30, Peppas 11, Kontos 11, Chaikalis, Papazoglou, Anagnos, Dimaras, Zographos, Paraskevas.

The semifinals

Greens faced Varese at the semifinals. Panathinaikos prevailed 78-70 in Athens, but the loss 69-55 at Italy cost them a place in the final. Varese later conquered the trophy and it was crowned European Champion.

The results

Qualifying Round

Amicale Steinsel (Luxemburg) 98-63*, 94-67

First Round

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) 81-73, 80-81*

Quarterfinal Phase

Lier Basket (Belgium) 84-117*, 70-75

Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) 99-73, 74-74*

ΚΚ Jugoplastika Split (Croatia) 63-87*, 94-83


Varese (Italy) 55-69*, 78-70

*Away game

**We thank the Fiba Europe Press Office for its tremendous help

…Deshaun Thomas had a great 2018-19 season with Panathinaikos BC OPAP, he averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in EuroLeague action, added 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per Greek Basket League Regular Season contest?