Panathinaikos reigns again in Greece!
After three years, Panathinaikos Athens reclaimed the Greek League title on Sunday with a masterful 51-66 do-or-die, Game 5 victory on the court of archrival Olympiacos Piraeus. Thanks to long stretches of impenetrable defense, Panathinaikos won the best-of-five series 3-2 and returned to the top of the podium in Greece for the first time since 2014. Panathinaikos won the middle quarters 20-43 and held Olympiacos to a single free throw for 6 minutes near the end of the game to make sure of its 35th national title. A 12-0 run to start the second half gave Panathinaikos a 21-point lead, 27-48, that proved too much for Olympiacos, the two-time defending champion, to overcome. K.C. Rivers led the Greens with 13 points, followed by Nick Calathes with 12, Mike James with 11 and Nikos Pappas with 10. Olympiacos had 10 points from Dimitris Agravanis, the team's only double-digit scorer, while suffering from 34% two-point and 25% free throw shooting as a team.
A trio of three-pointers by Kostas Papanikolaou and Vangelis Mantzaris sent Olympiacos to an early 11-3 lead. Panathinaikos soon tied 12-12 on a layup by Ioannis Bourousis, but Olympiacos held on to lead 17-14 after 10 minutes. Papanikolaou's layup made it 19-14 to open the second quarter, but Panathinaikos then made its move, starting with a triple by Calathes. He added a pair of layups in a 2-11 run to a 21-25 lead for the Greens, whose defense held Olympiacos to 6 points over more than 8 minutes to seize a 27-36 advantage at the half. The Panathinaikos onslaught only picked up steam after the break, with three-point shots by Calathes, James and Kenny Gabriel suddenly lifting the difference to 27-47. Olympiacos went 6 minutes without a point and could only keep even after that until the third quarter ended 37-57. Agravanis made 2 triples and Erick Green a layup to start the fourth quarter or Olympiacos. However, when a three-pointer by Vassilis Spanoulis got the difference down to single digits, 48-59, Rivers answered with one of his own. Another Olympiacos scoring drought followed and Chris Singleton's dunk left a 48-64 Panathinaikos advantage with less than 4 minutes left, pointing the way to a new title for the Greens!
Bamberg conquers German title, returns to EuroLeague
Brose Bamberg is returning to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague next season after sweeping to its third straight German League title with a resounding 76-58 home win against EWE Baskets Oldenburg on Sunday. A 15-0 tie-breaking run bridging the third and fourth quarters was decisive as Bamberg won going away to lift its seventh German League trophy in eight seasons this decade. Maodo Lo led Bamberg with 15 points, while Fabien Causeur and Janis Strelnieks added 11 each and Darius Miller 10. Causeur was named MVP of the finals. Brian Qvale had 12 points and Chris Kramer 10 for Oldenburg, which was handcuffed into 38.2% two-point and 28.6% three-point shooting by the Bamberg defense.
The lead went back and forth in the first quarter until Strelnieks scored 6 points near the end of it to give Bamberg a 19-17 lead after 10 minutes. With Qvale and Kramer stepping up, Oldenburg took brief leads until Lo scored 7 points in under 3 minutes to make it 36-31 before Bamberg pulled into halftime ahead 39-34. Leon Radosevic lifted Bamberg's lead right after the break but Oldenburg came back from 7 down to tie on Ricky Paulding's basket at 49-49. Bamberg responded with an 8-0 run to close the quarter behind 6 points from Elias Harris. The run stretched to 15-0 with 7 unanswered points by Causeur, Strelnieks and Lo to open the final stanza and put Bamberg in the driver's seat the rest of the way to another German title for a Freak City home crowd that has come to expect nothing less.
Fenerbahce up 2-0 in Turkish finals
Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Fenerbahce Istanbul took a strong step toward a repeat title in the Turkish League with an 83-74 home win Sunday over Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul in Game 2 of their playoff finals. Fenerbahce now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0. Bogdan Bogdanovic paced the winners with 19 points, while Jan Vesely added 16, Nikola Kalinic 15 and Kostas Sloukas 12.
Vladimir Stimac had 15 points for Besiktas and Erkan Veyseloglu 12.
Neither team could sustain a margin through three ties and as many lead changes until a three-pointer by Roll put Besiktas ahead 13-17 late in the first quarter. Bogdanovic assisted Kostas Sloukas for a buzzer-beater and then nailed a lead-changing triple to open the second quarter, putting Fenerbahce ahead 20-19. But the see-saw battle on the scoreboard continued until D.J. Strawberry's triple had Besiktas up 29-32. Fenerbahce responded by blasting off for a 10-4 run to lead 39-36 at halftime. The run was extended to 20-6 as Bobby Dixon opened up the second half with a triple and 6 points shared by Ekpe Udoh and Jan Vesely made it 49-38 midway through the third quarter. Besiktas got a boost from Veyseloglu to draw within 55-49. Vesely and Ahmet Duverioglu bridged the final quarters with 5 free throws before Sloukas from deep gave Fenerbahce its first double-digit lead, 63-51. His assist to Bogdanovic was good for another triple. Besiktas rallied with a 3-11 run capped by Roll's three-pointer at 69-62, but could get no closer as Fenerbahce protected its home court for a 2-0 series lead.
Valencia steals home-court advantage in Spanish finals
Playing in its first Spanish League finals in 14 years, Valencia Basket struck a huge blow in Game 2 on Sunday by downing host Real Madrid 79-86 in the Spanish capital. The victory evened the best-of-five series at 1-1 and means that home-court advantage has flipped with the series going to Valencia for the next two games, starting Wednesday. Bojan Dubljevic scored 11 of his 20 points for Valencia in the fourth quarter, including a tie-breaking basket with 1:20 to play that sparked a 0-7 closing run for the visitors. In addition to his team-high scoring total, Dubljevic had 9 rebounds. Fernando San Emeterio added 14 points for the winners, while Will Thomas had 11 and Pierre Oriola 10. Real Madrid got 22 points from Sergio Llull, 14 from Felipe Reyes and 13 from Andres Nocioni, but spent a lot of energy recovering from a bad start.
Luke Sikma's 9 early points – his only scoring in the game – vaulted Valencia in front 6-15 after tipoff. Madrid had only 1 field goal in 5 minutes. Llull then scored 8 points in succession, but in between them, San Emeterio's three-point play gave Valencia a 10-21 edge that was still 22-28 after 10 minutes. Jefferey Taylor opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for the hosts, but Madrid's resurgence had to wait. Joan Sastre would put Valencia back up by 9 points, 27-39, before a 7-2 run highlighted by Nocioni's three-pointer got Madrid within 41-43 at the half. Back-to-back baskets by Gustavo Ayon set up Llull to give Madrid its first lead, 47-46, but Dubljevic responded with 3 consecutive baskets for Valencia. Reyes got a pair back to put Madrid in front on the way to a 64-61 lead after three quarters. Valencia blasted back in front with a 2-9 run behind Dubljevic to start the fourth quarter. And when Nocioni downed a triple, Antoine Diot answered with his second in 5 minutes. After Dubljevic put Valencia up 4 again, 75-79, with 2:25 to play, Nocioni and Llull tied it. But Dubljevic couldn't be stopped and his basket with 1:20 left made it 79-81. He added 1 of 2 free throws with 32 seconds left, but offensive rebounds put Sastre on the foul line to secure a two-possession difference at 79-84, and that was more than enough for Valencia to pull off the road upset.