Turkish Airlines Euroleague
June 20, 2013
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Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
Athens 2007: Classic as it gets
Just about everyone got the title-game matchup they wanted at the 2007 Final Four in Athens. Unicaja and Tau Ceramica were undoubtedly good teams, but they were not exactly on the same level as Panathinaikos, the hosts, or CSKA, the defending champs playing in their fifth consecutive Final Four. This truly was one of the best championship games that I have ever seen - ANYWHERE - a classic between two powerhouse teams coached by living legends Zeljko Obradovic and Ettore Messina!
The defending champs took on Panathinaikos on their home court, OAKA arena, which was obviously sold out, but it actually felt and sounded like somehow a few thousand more fans were squeezed into the arena! I can't imagine any other title game having the kind of atmosphere we felt in Athens when OAKA seemed to shake whenever Panathinaikos made a basket. It is hard to describe how thrilling that is to witness just as a fan, so imagine what it does for the players on the floor. And in this particular game, you could almost see the energy in the building transferred to the superstars on the court.
Everyone expected a defensive struggle, a slow-paced type of game. What we actually saw was quite the opposite! Sure, there was great defense, and each team tried to control the tempo, however, when you put so many talented players on the floor, you will get some spectacular action, because you simply cannot hold down guys like Theo Papaloukas, Matjaz Smodis, Trajan Langdon, J.R. Holden and David Andersen on CSKA. And Panathinaikos, which is notorious for being the most unselfish team that you will find in basketball, had on this particular team one of the most unique point guards, who did absolutely everything on both ends of the court, in Dimitris Diamantidis. He was the conductor, but his orchestra included some heart-and-soul players like Mike Batiste, Ramunas Siskauskas, Dejan Tomasevic, Sani Becirovic and Dimos Dikoudis.
CSKA was behind on the scoreboard for most of the game, but continued to battle and managed to pull within 2 points in the last minute on some incredible leadership by Papaloukas, some amazing shooting by Langdon and some true heart by Smodis. Panathinaikos needed every single intangible, from the roars of the crowd, to some minutes for their idol, Frankie Alvertis, to great contributions from unheralded guys like Nikos Hatzivrettas and Milos Vujanic. In the end, the Greens kept their composure and made big plays and free throws down the stretch, while it appeared that the pressure of the moment got to some of the CSKA players as they could not execute well enough to take the lead and repeat as champions. Instead, Panathinaikos won 93-91, the only final in which both teams scored more than 90 points in almost 30 years, and a tribute to European basketball that still resonates today. As such, the Greens celebrated another Euroleague title with their fans in style!
WATCH THE 2007 TITLE-GAME REPLAY
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Johnny Rogers - Euroleague.net
Sunday, May 06, 2012
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Barcelona 2011: Another one to remember
Paris 2010: Another classic matchup
Berlin 2009: Down to the last shot
Madrid 2008: One for the memories
Athens 2007: Classic as it gets
Prague 2006: True inspiration
Moscow 2005: Double trouble
Tel Aviv 2004: The yellow wave
Barcelona 2003: A long-awaited title
Bologna 2002: Comeback kids
2001: The start of something big
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