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2009 – European Champion (Berlin, 1-3/5)

The season was made for those who believe in coincidence. When they saw that Panathinaikos was called to face Zalgiris Kaunas in the first competition game, they must have thought that lady luck was smiling at them, and were able to triumphantly rub it in on the …infidels when “the Greens” were celebrating yet another Euroleague title in Berlin, in the 02 Arena right next to wall, because coincidence had it that in 1995 the first step of a course that led to the first European Champion star on the Panathinaikos’ jersey was also taken in Kaunas. After a difficult year, with many player injuries, Panathinaikos made it all the way to being crowned European Champions for the fifth time.

 

Round one ended with Panathinaikos counting 7 victories and 3 defeats against the teams of Zalgiris Kaunas (78-51, 80-69), Barcelona (66-90, 76-87), Nancy (80-70, 83-69), Montepaschi Siena (81-76, 77-82), Prokom (67-60, 75-53), and Zeljko Obradovic bursting out in the last game against the Polaks in a press conference that remains …memorable, to say the least! In the Top16 round, despite the fact that the “Greens” were initially ranking as low as third place, made 5-1 run (Partizan 81-63, 56-63/Unicaja Málaga 81-69, 103-95/Lottomatica Roma 92-67, 90-71) and qualified to the playoffs without further problems.

 

The “clover” was hosting with home-court advantage the team of Montepaschi Siena at the OAKA, looking for three wins, and getting the positive outcome it was looking for in the first game (90-85). The second game, however, did not go as smoothly as Panathinaikos would have wanted, and they lost (79-84). Thus, the home-court advantage went to the hands of the Italians and the following two games would be hosted in Tuscany. The motto was first heard inside and then outside the OAKA locker-room by Zeljko Obradovic and his players: “We’re going there for two victories!” They believed in it and made it happen. They prevailed magnificently, dominating every aspect of the game and by winning the third game 72-53 and 91-84 the fourth game respectively, they were packing their bags for Berlin.

For the first time after 1995, Panathinaikos would face Olympiakos in a Final Four semifinal game. The pressure was on and rising by the second, with the technical team trying to diffuse the situation with talk about “two more games to the title”. The “Greens” were better, grabbed the victory they wanted (84-82) and reached the final where they would face, same as in 2007, Ettore Messina’s CSKA Moscow. The “clover” was simply unstoppable in the first half and was leading the score by as much as even 48-28. In the second half, some things changed, the game became derby, but the result was the same: the final score 73-71 Saw Panathinaikos putting on the laurels of the European Champion for the fifth time in its history. Vassilis Spanoulis was voted Final Four MVP (and named to the All-Euroleague second team), but it was the fans of the team who stood by the players from beginning to end and won the battle of the stands. Nikola Pekovic was included in the All-Euroleague First Team, and Dimitris Diamantidis was voted Best Defender of the Year.

Final Four (Berlin, 1-3/5)

Semifinals  

Barcelona -CSKA Moscow 78-82 (36-32)

Barcelona (Pascual): Basile 5, Burton 2, Lakovic 13, Navarro 13, Andersen 24, Vásquez 6, Ilyasova 2, Sada, Santiago 9, Grimau 4

CSKA Moscow (Messina): Zisis, Smodis 9, Siskauskas 29, Holden 8, Lorbek 8, Langdon 15, Kaun 4, Khryapa 9, Planinic, Morris

Olympiakos-Panathinaikos 82-84 (41-43)

Olympiakos (Giannakis): Papaloukas 9, Childress 11, Vujisic 14, Bourousis 10, Halperin 4, Greer 18, Vouyoukas, Printezis 9, Erceg 4, Teodosic 3, Pargo

Panathinaikos (Obradovic): Kecman, Spanoulis 18, Perperoglou 4, Batiste 19, Fotsis 5, Nicolas, Tsartsaris, Diamantidis, Pekovic 20, Jasikevicius 18


3rd Place Game

Olympiakos-Barcelona 79-95 (30-46)

Olympiakos (Giannakis): Papaloukas 8, Pelekanos 3, Vujisic 12, Milosevic, Bourousis 17, Halperin, Greer 19, Vouyoukas, Printezis 4, Erceg 11, Teodosic 5

Barcelona (Pascual): Basile 3, Barrett 4, Trias 5, Burton 6, Lakovic 14, Navarro 14, Andersen 20, Vásquez 3, Ilyasova 7, Sada 4, Santiago 10, Grimau 5


Final

Panathinaikos-CSKA Moscow 73-71 (48-28)

Panathinaikos (Obradovic): Spanoulis 13, Perperoglou, 6, Batiste 6, Fotsis 13, Nicolas 7, Tsartsaris 2, Diamantidis 10, Pekovic 6, Jasikevicius 10

CSKA Moscow (Messina): Zisis, Smodis 9, Siskauskas 13, Holden 14, Lorbek 5, Langdon 13, Kaun 3, Khryapa 9, Planinic 5, Morris

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