In front of an enthusiastic soldout crowd of 18,000-plus at OAKA, the arena he helped make famous, Panathinaikos said farewell to its emblematic figure and the most-decorated Greek pro basketball player, Fragiskos Alvertis, by beating CSKA Moscow 82-69 on Sunday in a re-match of the 2009 Euroleague title game. With 4 minutes and 39 seconds to go until the end of the third quarter, the game was interrupted and Alvertis saw his No 4 jersey being raised above the court. The Panathinaikos fans offered him a sensational standing ovation to thank him for his incomparable achievements and for the memories. Then they serenaded Alvertis, singing: "Frankie, you will be our captain forever!"
Alvertis retired following last season's triple crown - Euroleague, Greek League and Greek Cup titles - at 35 years old. He had played 19 consecutive seasons for Panathinaikos since he was traded from Glyfada, his home town, at age 16. During that time, he set a record by winning 25 titles, including five Euroleague trophies, tying him for second place on the list of continental winners.
"A great course came to the end," Alvertis said on Sunday. "First of all, I would like to underline that I feel blessed to get involved with the sports, enjoy great moments and experience on a daily basis all the values of this life. I feel grateful to my team, to the fans, to all coaches and teammates, to the management and to everybody who gave me the opportunity to live this wonderful life on the court. Now, I am retiring and I feel very happy for all I have achieved. My feelings are very intense, and reaching the end, I have nothing to complain about."
Zelimir Obradocic, who coached Alvertis for ten consecutive seasons stated: "I am very proud because I met, coached and built such a relationship with Fragiskos. There is no doubt that he is an outstanding personality and the most important athlete in the entire history of the club. He deserves to enjoy this kind of apotheosis in his last appearance on the court and we thank CSKA because they came here to fete him."
His six-year teammate Mike Batiste commented: "It was a pleasure to meet him and play with him for six seasons. Alvertis was not only a big player, but also a teacher for all of us."
Vice president of the club Thanassis Giannakopoulos added: "We are very happy because we had him here for 19 seasons, but also we feel sad, because he is retiring. He is an authentic legend and gives an example to everybody."
CSKA head coach Evgeniy Pashutin said: "We are very pleased because we are here and became witness to the respect and the love that Panathinaikos fans have for Alvertis."
In his very last appearance on the court, Alvertis scored three points with one of his classic shots from behind the arc. Giorgi Shermadini and Nikola Pekovic led the defending Euroleague champions with 13 points each, while Drew Nicholas scored 11 points and Dimitris Verginis added 10 points. From CSKA Moscow, Trajan Langdon bagged 15 points and Zoran Planinic had 11.
Alvertis celebrated the end of his long and glorious career - 11 Greek League titles, 8 Greek Cups, 5 Euroleague crowns and one Intercontinental Cup - but will stay with Panathinaikos as a link between the team and the management.