On this date nine years ago, Panathinaikos Athens got back to the EuroLeague Final Four after having missed Paris 2010. And it did so in style by defeating defending champ FC Barcelona at home in Game 4 of their playoff series, 78-67. It was a crucial win for the Greens, who would end up winning the title in Barcelona.
Greens defense on Barcelona guards was key
Panathinaikos, coached by Zeljko Obradovic, was legendary, among other things, because of the smothering defense it played. This game was a prime example of that, as the star-studded Barcelona backcourt of Ricky Rubio, Juan Carlos Navarro, Joe Ingles, Jaka Lakovic, Victor Sada and Roger Grimau combined for a total 19 points, while their combined average that season was 38.5.
Nick Calathes, a young leader
A EuroLeague superstar now, point guard Nick Calathes made his debut with Panathinaikos in 2009-10, so he was in his second season in the competition and Calathes averaged 4.8 points and 1.5 assists in his 22 appearances. He still had a long way to go in order to become the leader he is today, but in Game 4, Calathes was the Greens' top scorer with 12 points, to which he added 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 34 minutes.
About the game
It was another packed game at OAKA with 19,000 fans cheering for the Greens. Panathinaikos only scored four times from beyond the arc and even missed 7 of its 27 free throws, but the hosts were more consistent from the field than Barca. The game had its major swing when Barcelona had a 0-8 run to go from 20-16 to 20-24 early in the second period, but Panathinaikos replied with its own biggest run of the game, 7-0 to make it 27-24, and never looked back again.
What would happen next
Barcelona missed the chance to become the ninth team to win back-to-back EuroLeague titles and Panathinaikos went on to appear at its 10th Final Four. The Greens defeated Montepaschi Siena in the semifinals. In the championship game, the Greek champs faced Maccabi Tel Aviv. Mike Batiste and Dimitris Diamantidis shined as the latter also earned Final Four MVP honors to lead Panathinaikos to its sixth and, to date, last EuroLeague title.