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2011 – European Champion (Barcelona, 6-8/5)

Back to the top!!! Panathinaikos conquered its sixth European Championship in the Euroleague Final Four hosted in the στο Palau San Jordi in Barcelona.

After a difficult course throughout the season and after being disputed for a good part of the year, the team showed on the court a truckload of character and what it can do. The trophy found its way for the sixth time to the hands of Zeljko Obradovic’s players, with the coach putting down in history a few records of his own. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos’ captain, lifted the trophy way up, but only after calling Mike Batiste and Kostas Tsartsaris to assist him in doing so, because – as the captain said himself – “they have been with the team more years than I have and they deserve it!”

The “Greens” completed the first round with a 7-3 run against Power E. Valencia (72-56, 69-73), CSKA Moscow (74-60, 72-68), Olimpija L. (84-85, 95-88), Efes Pilsen (84-61, 78-79), and Armani Jeans Milano (81-71, 93-62). These results landed them on the top spot of Group D. By the end of the Top16 round Panathinaikos dropped to second place with 4-2 run after having faced Lietuvos Rytas (80-59, 68-67), Unicaja Málaga (82-56, 77-61) and Caja Laboral Vitoria (70-77, 76-74). Caja Laboral also had a 4-2 run and ultimately landed on top of Group E. The continuation was even better, since Panathinaikos faced at home disadvantage the team of Barcelona, which many considered the favorite to win the title. Panathinaikos lost the first game in Barcelona right down at the finish line (83-82). It is quite possible that never before had a defeat made so many people believe that this team can make it even up against the absolute favorite; the most important thing, though, is that the players had already believed it. All of them… Without talking too much, believing in their abilities and wanting to prove all those who had doubted them wrong, they won the second game in the Palau Blaugrana (75-71). The home-court advantage now came to the hands of the Greek team that made the most of it. Panathinaikos won the third game by 76-74 and the fourth game by 78-67 with the OAKA indoor arena being full to capacity and pulsating by the power-boosting! The 3-1 run sent Panathinaikos to the Barcelona Final Four, which was the tenth in its history (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011).

Power comes in numbers but not to Panathinaikos, since it was the Maccabi Tel Aviv fans that had inundated the city of Barcelona. Supremacy in the stands, though, was clearly a matter of “clover” fans. More than 4000 fans showed in action that others may show disbelief. The semifinal victory over Montepaschi Siena by 77-69 was the first reason that justified traveling all the way to the capital of Cataluña in times of financial dire straits. The triumph over Maccabi Tel Aviv by 78-70 in the final was the absolute justification for all those who believed in this team that has made all those who love Panathinaikos so very proud.

This title was the sixth for the club, the sixth European Championship, the sixth Euroleague title, bringing Panathinaikos together with CSKA Moscow second only to Real Madrid in the relevant list. Dimitris Diamantidis was voted for the second time Euroleague Final Four MVP, an award that only two other players so far have won twice: Toni Kukoc and Dejan Bodiroga. Zeljko Obradovic, was already the head coach with most titles under his belt, but distanced himself even more from the rest of his colleagues by winning his eighth title (1992, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009, and 2011).

*On Saturday, May 7 the “Best of the Year awards” were presented. Dimitris Diamantidis left full of trophies since he won his sixth Defender of the Year award (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011), was named to the All-Euroleague First Team for the second time (2007, 2011) and was voted All-Euroleague MVP. Mike Batiste also won a spot in the All-Euroleague First Team. And the awards kept coming in… Zeljko Obradovic was voted “Head Coach of the Year”. And the people who have kept the team together all these years, Pavlos and Thanassis Giannakopoulos, received the Best Executive award!


Final Four (Barcelona, 6-8/5)

Semifinals  

Panathinaikos-Montepaschi Siena 77-69 (40-36)

Panathinaikos (Obradovic): Perperoglou 5, Batiste 16 (7 ρ.), Fotsis 14, Sato 6, Nicolas 3 Tsartsaris 2, Diamantidis 8 (9 assists), Vouyoukas 6, Calathes 17 (6 rebounds, 2 steals)

Montepaschi Siena (Pianigiani): McCalebb 7, Zisis 4, Hairston 12, Carraretto 2, Rakovic 10, Lavrinovic Ks. 7, Kaukenas  13, Ress, Akindele, Jaric, Stonerook  4 (14 rebounds), Moss 6

Maccabi Tel Aviv-Real Madrid 82-63 (32-49)

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Blatt): Pargo 13, Hendrix 6, Sharp 3, Blu 10, Eliyahu 1, Pnini 14, Burstein, Eidson 19, Macvan, Schortsanitis 16

Real Madrid (Molin): Molin 17, Prigioni 9, Suarez 8, Reyes 15, Mirotic, Rodriguez, Fischer 2, Llull 9, Tucker 3


3rd Place Game

Real Madrid-Montepaschi Siena 62-80 (32-36)

Real Madrid (Molin): Tomic 1, Suarez 1, Reyes 8, Mirotic 6, Rodriguez, Velickovic 7, Begic 4, Fischer 4, Llull 23, Tucker

Montepaschi Siena (Pianigiani): McCalebb 10, Zisis 9, Hairston 4, Carraretto 5, Rakovic 8, Lavrinovic Ks. 17, Kaukenas  8, Ress 4, Michelori 2, Jaric 2, Aradori, Moss 11


Final

Maccabi Tel Aviv-Panathinaikos 70-78 (30-33)

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Blatt): Pargo 12, Eliyahu 8, Eidson 18(2), Pnini 9(2), Schortsanitis 4, Burstein, Blu 15(3), Macvan 3

Panathinaikos (Obradovic): Tepic, Maric 2, Perperoglou 2, Batiste 18, Fotsis 5, Sato 13 (3), Nicolas 14 (2), Tsartsaris, Diamantidis 16 (1), Vouyoukas 4, Calathes 4 (4), Kaimakoglou 

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