Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 24, 2013
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Tribute to the champs!
The most successful coach in European history did it again. Zeljko Obradovic lifted his sixth Euroleague trophy by providing yet another coaching exhibition, keeping his team focused all weekend, whether the theme was defense in the semifinals or offense in the title game. Obradovic's third Euroleague title with Panathinaikos (2000, 2002, 2007), adde dto previous ones with Partizan (1992), Joventut (1994 and Real Madrid (1995), make him already an all-time great among world coaches at age 47.
One player who sealed his status as a Euroleague superstar at the 2007 Final Four was Dimitris Diamantidis. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year became an All-Euroleague first team selection and earned MVP honors in the title game, when he posted 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals with only one missed shot, a free throw, the whole game. Diamantidis now enters the prime of his career ready to lead the Greens into the future.
After fighting to remain calm before the final, Ramunas Siskauskas was one of happiest players in the Panathinaikos post-game celebration. Siskauskas, the Euroleague MVP in April, had plenty of reasons to be joyful. He led the champs with 20 points and tied the record for most free throws made (12) in a Euroleague final. He rounded out a perfect game with 4 rebounds, 5 assists and as many as 11 fouls drawn in a game-high 37 minutes, enough to record the highest index rating, 30, in the final.
He had to battle injuries in the recent past, but Milos Vujanic can look to a very bright future, as he proved in the Euroleague final. Vujanic became a decisive factor in 18 minutes off the Panathinaikos bench, scoring 12 points that included 9 of 9 free throws. At age 26, Vujanic has already been a Euroleague top scorer and helped two different teams reach the Euroleague final. In scoring his season high against CSKA, Vujanic showed he is made for big games and ready for more.
Five years after having lost a Euroleague final against Panathinaikos, Sani Becirovic was on the right side this time as he helped the Greens win their fourth continental crown. Becirovic was an offensive spark for Panathinaikos throughout Final Four weekend, scoring a team-high 15 points in the semifinal against Tau Ceramica and his team's first 4 points in what became an offensive-minded final with CSKA. Another player who overcame serious injury, Becirovic got his first Euroleague crown at age 26.
He earned monthly MVP honors to start the season and fought injuries through its middle, but when it mattered most, Mike Batiste showed who was boss. Batiste led Panathinaikos in its semifinal victory against Tau Ceramica with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and then added 12 points on 6-of-9 two-point shooting against CSKA. His turnaround jumper in the last minute of the final will go down as the game's critical shot: when Panathinaikos needed Batiste most, he came through like a champ.
With only one empty spot in his trophy case, Dejan Tomasevic completed his collection in style at the Final Four. Tomasevic shined in the title game against CSKA, scoring 16 points on 6-for-9 two-point shooting in 21 minutes and thus became one of four players to win both the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup titles. Those are in addition to eight national championships in three different countries for five different teams. In short, Tomasevic cemented his status as a Euroleague basketball legend.
Panathinaikos needed a Final Four defensive anchor near the basket and found one in Demos Dikoudis, who was a main factor in limiting Tau Ceramica's big men to less than half their usual output in the semifinal. Dikoudis thrived with 7 points and 7 rebounds against Tau. His defense was key again in the final, when Panathinaikos kept CSKA's inside scorers completely in check, making Dikoudis one of the most important players in the return to glory of Panathinaikos.
Perhaps no player so important to the Panathinaikos title effort called less attention to himself, but Nikos Hatzivrettas was crucial on both ends of the court before he finally won the Euroleague trophy in his third Final Four and against his former team, CSKA Moscow. He played the second-most minutes for the champs in the title game, finishing with 10 points while hitting 2 of 3 shots from downtown and 4 of 4 at the free throw line. Once again, Hatzivrettas was a key soldier in the Panathinaikos army.
Already a certified icon after 17 seasons with Panathinaikos, when Frankie Alvertis lifted his fourth Euroleague trophy, he set a record with the most titles of any player in the 20-year Final Four era. Alvertis was without question his team's leader all season, both off the court and with timely contributions as a reserve, as he showed with 5 points near halftime of the semifinal against Tau Ceramica. And when the title was in hand, only one player could lead the celebration with his hometown fans: Alvertis.
He was not expected to play in the Final Four, but Tony Delk was there, ready to help Panathinaikos when called upon. That call came in the semifinal, when he took the floor for 7 solid minutes, more than he had played in any game for six weeks. Delk's biggest contributions had come when Panathinaikos started the season undefeated through 11 games, during which he ranked among the team's top scorers. With victory at the end, Delk joined the few players ever to win both NCAA and Euroleague titles.
While he is among four players to win both the Euroleague and the ULEB Cup titles, almost no one can claim such a remarkable comeback to the European elite as Robertas Javtokas, who suffered a life-threatening motorcycle accident early in the decade. Although he played just 3 minutes of the semifinal against Tau Ceramica, his 2 blocked shots in that span - including a spectacular one running back to the basket from the corner - showed why Javtokas, at age 27, has the stuff of a champion.
Despite being slowed by a last-minute injury, Kostas Tsartsaris managed to get on the court during the Final Four, although his playing time wasn't enough to show how important he had been throughout the season. Until then, Tsartsaris had started more games than all but two other Panathinaikos players and played more minutes than all but four. As the player with the second-longest tenure on Panathinaikos, a lesser role at the end could not diminish his deservedness to share fully in the glory.
Tribute to Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos is Euroleague champ!
Final Four team page: Panathinaikos
VIDEO: The Day of the Greens
F4 MVP: Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos
Media Reaction to Athens Final Four
Greens honored by Republic President
Panathinaikos meets Greek prime minister
Champion interview: Zeljko Obradovic
Champion interview: Dimitris Diamantidis
Champion profile: Fragiskos Alvertis
Final Report: Panathinaikos 93-91 CSKA
Semifinal Report: Panathinaikos 67-53 Tau
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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