In Greece they call him Spiderman, for his stealing skills, but last summer, while winning a silver medal at the World Championships, he picked up another nickname: 3-D. Those three D's stand for Dimitris Diamantidis and defense, the specialty that has made the 26-year-old Panathinaikos guard once again the Best Defender Trophy winner by a vote of Euroleague head coaches. Diamantidis has owned the award since it was introduced in the same year that he joined the Euroleague. That makes three seasons, three votes and three times that Diamantidis stands above all Euroleague defenders: 3-D, indeed. This season, Diamantidis moved fulltime to point guard and played more minutes than any other Panathinaikos player on the team's march to the Final Four. And he kept doing remarkable things without the ball, like ranking 13th in blocked shots, the only Euroleague player shorter than 2 meters in the top 25 of that category. He also ranked among the Euroleague’s best five players in steals and assists. The only player to take part in every Panathinaikos game this season - all as a starter - Diamantidis has truly led the Greens to their rendezvous with fate on the OAKA floor.
Guards from Final Four teams dominated the voting for best defender this season. Pablo Prigioni of Tau Ceramica was the second choice of the coaches, while his teammate Fred House and J.R. Holden of CSKA were tied for third place. Teen sensation Ricky Rubio of DKV Joventut finished fifth. The Best Defender Trophy is among several end-of-season honors awarded by Euroleague Basketball. Already announced have been the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, which went to Igor Rakocevic of Tau Ceramica, and the Rising Star Trophy, won by Rudy Fernandez of DKV Joventut. The nominees to the All-Euroleague team will be announced soon. The All-Euroleague first and second teams, plus the Euroleague MVP, will be awarded at the Euroleague Official Dinner on Saturday, May 5, during the Final Four in Athens.
Virtually unknown beyond Greece just three years ago, Diamantidis has done such remarkable things in a Panathinaikos uniform that he is already one of Euroleague Basketball's signature superstars. One of his accomplishments has been attracting the attention of fans to the defensive side of the game. Diamantidis uses his size and quickness to great effect against opposing ballhandlers, but is such a savvy defender, that he sometimes picks up big men on switches and steals from them before they can use their height advantage. Once again this season, Diamantidis was a constant defensive threat. He had at least 2 steals in all but one game of the regular season, including a high of 7 against fellow Final Four qualifier Unicaja in a home win. Even more amazing, on the night that Panathinaikos stretched its record to 11-0, Diamantidis blocked 5 shots against Lottomatica Roma, the second-highest single-game total of the season for all Euroleague players. Diamantidis kept it going in the next round, recording 3 or more steals in half of the Top 16 games. Diamantidis was also among the best rebounder among point guards in the entire competition. Along the way, he also signed a new contract to stay at Panathinaikos until at least 2010. Diamantidis will be awarded the Best Defender Trophy at the Euroleague Official Dinner in Athens on Saturday night of the Final Four.