2015-16PlayoffsGame 3
April 19, 2016 CET: 20:15

Laboral sweeps Panathinaikos for return to Final Four!

Back to the court from which it reached the Final Four a decade ago, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz did it again Tuesday, defeating host Panathinaikos Athens 75-84 before a packed crowd at Olympic Sports Center Athens to sweep their best-of-five playoff series 3-0 and punch a ticket to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague's crowning event in Berlin, Germany next month! Laboral drilled 7 of 8 three-point shots in the game's last 8 minutes to run away with what had been a back-and-forth battle until then. Laboral's victory meant, however, that the Euroleague career of legend Dimitris Diamantidis, who plans to retire at the end of the season, ended with a loss as Panathinaikos was booted from the playoffs for the fourth season running. Diamantidis finished with 2,495 career points, 1 behind his former teammate Mike Batiste, for sixth place on the all-time scoring list and, with 2 rebounds, tied Denis Marconato for 10th place. it will be Laboral that returns to the Final Four for the first time since 2008, however, as Darius Adams scored 14 of his 24 points in the last quarter and Mike James followed with 20 total. Davis Bertans had 13 points for the winners, while Ioannis Bourousis had 9 and 6 assists. Miroslav Raduljica led Panathinaikos with 13 points and 8 rebounds, while James Gist and Elliot Williams scored 11 each. Diamantidis, the Euroleague's career leader in assists and steals, finished with 8 points and 7 assists. Laboral won despite the ongoing absences of injured starters Fabien Causeur and Adam Hanga.

First quarter: No pulling away for either team

Adams drove for a fall-back runner to open the scoring before Raduljica answered inside. Vladimir Jankovic dropped free throws, Nick Calathes threw a long pass to Gist for a fastbreak reverse and Jankovic drilled a long jumper to suddenly put Panathinaikos ahead 8-2. Adams, Darko Planinic and Jaka Blazic made 2 free throws each for Laboral, while Jankovic made 1 of 2 for the hosts, closing the gap to 9-8. Calathes got in the scoring column with a layup that Blazic matched on a fastbreak before Bertans hit 1 of 2 free throws for an 11-11 tie. Ognjen Kuzmic climbed off the Panathinaikos bench and took back the lead, but Bourousis did the same to tie for the visitors. Adams got loose for a go-ahead layup for Laboral that was countered by Antonis Fotsis coming off the baseline for a dunk. When Kuzmic hit another jump hook, Panathinaikos was back in front, 17-15. Bourousis hit 2 foul shots to tie and Bertans blasted his team's first three-pointer from the corner for the difference in a 17-20 Laboral lead after 10 minutes.

Second quarter: Laboral lengthen lead

Fotsis cut back door for one basket and tipped in another as Panathinaikos regained the lead, 21-20. But James sped to the basket to take it back and then Bourousis fed Bertans with an over-the-shoulder pass to make it 21-24. Raduljica tied it on a three-point play, but James matched him with a single shot to keep Laboral in front. Williams downed 2 free throws for Panathinaikos, but another triple flew for Laboral, this from the hands of Alberto Corbacho, to make it 26-30. Bertans went to the free throw line next, made both, and Laboral had its biggest lead yet, 26-32. Raduljica turned on the baseline and detonated a dunk but Bourousis passed to the corner for a triple by James and then Bertans made 3 of 3 free throws for the first double-digit lead, 28-38. Diamantidis fed Calathes for one layup and Raduljica another to calm the hosts. James got 2 points back with free throws, then took a steal all the way for a dunk and another double-digit difference, 32-42. Fotsis hit free throws before Jankovic fed Diamantidis for a transition triple that cut the distance although the half ended 37-42 in favor of the guests.

Third quarter: Greens rally, but Laboral doesn't break

Bourousis threaded a pass to Adams for a layup to start the second half. Jankovic drilled a three-pointer and Williams hit 2 of 4 free throws as Panathinaikos edged closer, 42-44. Williams completed the comeback with a fall-back jumper at 44-44. After Bourousis canned a shot from the lane, Williams fed Raduljica for a layup. James answered with his own fall-back jumper and then Bertans stole a pass and waltzed the other way for a dunk at 46-50. Jankovic made a tip-in for Panathinaikos, Adams answered with a face-up jumper, but then Williams was on the mark with a triple to make it 51-52. Diamantidis took the honor of hitting the go-ahead shot, a long two-pointer. Bertans fed Kim Tillie in close to take the lead again for Laboral, then Kuzmic reclaimed it for the Greens with free throws, 55-54. Darko Planinic put back an offensive rebound as the lead changed hands once more on the last basket of the third quarter for a 55-56 Laboral advantage.

Fourth quarter: Adams, James shoot lights out until Berlin!

Diamantidis lobbed to Vince Hunter for an alley-oop layup to open the fourth quarter before Planinic repeated himself with a put-back as Laboral led again. Diamantidis rifled a pass to Gist for an easy layup, but Adams was ready with a triple and a three-point play the hard way for the visitors to lead 59-64. After a timeout, Corbacho blasted from the corner for a 59-67 score. Raduljica dropped a jump hook, but Adams was back with another triple and then a fall-back baseline jumper at 63-72. Gist buried a three-pointer to give Panathinaikos new hope at 66-72 with under 5 minutes left. Diamantidis came out of nowhere for an offensive rebound and assist to Gist for a slam at 68-72, but after a timeout, Adams was unstoppable with a triple from behind a screen at 68-75. Bourousis returned with a monster block as Gist tried to dunk, then went the other way and hit a triple at 68-78. Gist got a basket inside, but Adams fed James for a triple and, when Diamantidis did the same, James came back with another one to make it 73-84 with a minute to go. It was time for the Panathinaikos fans to get on their feet and serenade Diamantidis, who left the game to a standing ovation, a similar one to what awaits Laboral when it gets home to Vitoria.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz celebrates - EB15
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Attendance: 16419
By Quarter1234
Panathinaikos Athens17201820
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz20221428
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Panathinaikos Athens17375575
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz20425684
Panathinaikos Athens
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
0 HAYNES, MARQUEZ 10:01   0/1 0/3     2 2               -2
3 PAVLOVIC, SASHA 4:07     0/1         1              
8 JANKOVIC, VLADIMIR 16:10 10 1/2 2/3 2/4 3 3 6 3   1 1 1 3 4 15
9 FOTSIS, ANTONIS 21:40 8 3/4 0/1 2/2 2 2 4           1 1 10
10 RADULJICA, MIROSLAV 26:23 13 6/12   1/1 2 6 8 3   3     2 1 14
12 FELDEINE, JAMES 10:08   0/1 0/2     1 1   1   1   1   -1
13 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS 23:36 8 1/1 2/4   1 1 2 7 1 3 1   1 5 18
14 GIST, JAMES 18:20 11 4/7 1/2   2 3 5 1 1 1 1 1 3   10
15 CALATHES, NICK 30:48 6 3/7 0/2   2 1 3 5 2 1 1 2 3   5
21 KUZMIC, OGNJEN 8:36 6 2/3   2/2 3 1 4 1   1 1   1 1 10
22 WILLIAMS, ELLIOT 25:10 11 2/7 1/3 4/6 1 6 7 2   2     2 5 12
32 HUNTER, VINCE 5:01 2 1/2               1     2   -2
Team             3 3               3
Totals 200:00 75 23/47 6/21 11/15 16 29 45 23 5 13 6 4 19 17 92
        48.9% 28.6% 73.3%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
3 JAMES, MIKE 30:05 20 3/6 4/6 2/2   6 6 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 23
4 DIOP, MAMADOU DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5 CAUSEUR, FABIEN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6 PLANINIC, DARKO 13:37 8 3/5   2/2 5   5   1 1   2 2 2 9
8 HANGA, ADAM DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 BOUROUSIS, IOANNIS 26:23 9 2/5 1/3 2/2   3 3 6     2   3 2 14
11 BLAZIC, JAKA 17:37 4 1/5 0/2 2/2 1   1         2 2 2 -3
12 DIOP, ILIMANE DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14 TILLIE, KIM 22:58   0/3 0/2     2 2     1 1 1 4 1 -7
20 ADAMS, DARIUS 35:10 24 6/9 3/9 3/3   4 4 3 1 2     1 7 27
33 CORBACHO, ALBERTO 17:11 6   2/2     2 2 1         1   8
42 BERTANS, DAVIS 36:59 13 2/2 1/5 6/7   4 4 3 3 2     3 4 17
Team           2 3 5               5
Totals 200:00 84 17/35 11/29 17/18 8 24 32 15 7 8 4 6 17 19 93
        48.6% 37.9% 94.4%

Head Coaches

Panathinaikos Athens
"It was a tough loss for us. When we traveled to Vitoria we have believed that we should have come back with one victory, but it didn't happen. Tonight we wanted to and tried to play a good game, but Laboral Kutxa was very well prepared. It is very painful for me, but I have to congratulate them for their success. In the [fourth quarter] they scored 7 of 10 three-pointers and killed us. We had low shooting percentages in the series and didn't manage to improve our percentage. Now the team has to recover and overcome this difficult situation. The players have to find the power and the valiancy to fight in the Greek League playoffs."
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz
"This result is an amazing moment for our club and we enjoy it very much. We did it 10 years ago, here again against the same opponent, but in 2006 we had players of high class. Now I am very proud to have a team with tremendous fighting spirit and great confidence. We are very happy to get such a qualification against a very good team and especially versus a legendary player like Diamantidis. We played a great game as we have done during the whole season and managed to keep our concentration in the tough and crucial moments. Ioannis Bourousis is the key to our success, a real leader and a great guy."


Panathinaikos Athens
"We knew that we could play against them and we proved it in Game 2 in Vitoria, where we lost because of a few details. Tonight the crowd gave us a lot of energy and power, but unfortunately it was not enough. Laboral Kutxa played their game, scored some crazy three pointers and beat us. We are very sorry and there is no excuse for what happened. I want to thank the fans who came tonight and gave as such a big support. Unfortunately we didn't manage to pay it back. However it was nice to hear 20,000 fans cheering for Diamantidis. He is a real legend and deserves this kind of standing ovation."
Panathinaikos Athens
"Congratulations to Laboral Kutxa for their success. It is a tough night for us and for the club. Our target was to reach the Final Four, but it is over. Everybody has his feelings, including the irritation. We want the fans to stay behind us and help the team, as they did many times in the past. We will try to win the Greek Championship, which is our last goal. We have to work hard and find the confidence and the power to play the Greek League playoffs. It is a mistake to say that I was the only player who tried to get the victory. There is no player who doesn't want to give his best and have the opportunity to play in the Final Four. All the players and the whole team were very excited for this opportunity. At the end of the day, it is clear that we didn't play in the proper level, either in defense or on offense. Especially in the crucial moments we had some bad offensive actions and our opponents scored big threes. Then it is very difficult to recover."
Panathinaikos Athens
"There is no doubt that Laboral Kutxa played better than we did and deserved to make it to the Final Four. They beat us with the same playing style in all three  games and we are very sorry for what happened, especially tonight. We disappointed our fans and unfortunately we will not have the possibility to fight anymore in order to achieve our goal. I am also very sorry because we didn't give to our captain, Dimitris Diamantidis, the opportunity to play some more games in his last Euroleague participation. I would like to see him returning to the competition, because every year he seems to be better and better. Now we have to get prepared to win the Greek championship."
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz
"We came here to win Game 3 and advance to the Final Four, because a Game 4 would be very difficult. Adams, James and Bertans hit some big shots and we managed to control the game and bring it to our style. I didn't score a lot tonight, but I tried to help my team with defense, experience and some good passes. In the locker room I said to my teammates that we are not going to Berlin to enjoy our participation and be happy. We will go there to fight and try to be Euroleague champions, which is something that our club never achieved. I have a special emotion tonight because it was the last game of Dimitris Diamantidis in the Euroleague. I feel honored to have played with him in the Greek national team and feel very honored as well to be one of his opponents in his last appearance in the competition."
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz
"We had to win and not play another game here. I was on fire and had 14 points in the last quarter but I have to thank my teammates who helped me and kept believing to me. I have missed some shots but they created space and continued to give me the ball and encourage me to shoot. The whole team deserves the credit and the congratulations for this success. Now we have to work hard and be ready to play the Final Four in Berlin. One game at a time is is the key point. The only thing we can promise is that we will give our best there. Ioannis Bourousis is an amazing player and our leader inside and outside the court. Hopefully we will give him the chance to make it to the championship game he didn't play in 2009 in Berlin."
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