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Panathinaikos' 3 Coronations


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Final-4 Paris 1996

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Semi-Final Match, Panathinaikos versus CSKA Moscow: The Final Four games featured Panathinaikos–CSKA Moscow and Barcelona–Real Madrid. Although Panathinaikos had not played all that well during the qualifying group stages they won their most crucial games, notably a victory in Tel Aviv against Maccabi and then again in Treviso against Benneton. In the deciding 3rd game in Treviso, Vrankovic blocked the Serbian star Zeljko Rebraca in the final second to qualify PAO for the Final Four.

The Palais de Berci can hold up to 10,000 fans and 8,000 of them were fans of Panathinaikos who had travelled from all over Europe to see their team finally being crowned European champions after the failed expeditions to Tel Aviv ’94 and Zaragosa ’95. In the semi-final, from the beginning of the game, an unstoppable Dominique Wilkins gave the Athenians a 10-12 lead of which PAO carried all game to win easily by 81-71.


Panathinaikos (Bozidar Maljkovic): Alvertis 13, Ekonommu 8, Korfas 8, Stavrakopoulos 7, Vurzumis 2, Vrankovic 8, Yannakis, Wilkins 36.

CSKA Moscow (Sergei Eremin): Karassev 23, Kissourin 7, Kornev 4, Kudelin 7, Morgunov 3, Nwosu 12, Panov 7, Vetra 8, Vadeev.

Championship Match, Panathinaikos versus Barcelona: In the two previous seasons Olympiakos had failed in both finals of the Final Four. In Tel Aviv it was against Joventut Badalona with Cornelius Thompson sinking a big three and Zarko Paspalj missing 7 of 10 free throws during the game. The next year in Saragosa it was the rampaging Joe Arlaukas and Arvydas Sabonis who broke the hearts of the Pireans. Real Madrid with the support of the Panathinaikos fans won easily and the “Greens” and “Madrilenos” celebrated together though out the night of Zaragosa. PAO was favored in the final, but many thought the Spanish could actually accomplish winning 3 seasons in a row with three different clubs, something that had never been done before.

The game started with “Pana” on top and that’s how it went throughout with the Shamrocks in control with 8-10 points. Wilkins was having a slow evening and it took the shooting instincts of the 21-year-old Fragiskos Alvertis to carry the team. Two minutes before the end though, things were to become dramatic. Barcelona with a rally of 3-pointers drew closer and closer to PAO, bringing the differential to 1 point!

PAO now had the ball with 34 seconds left and were running down the clock until Yannakis slipped lost the ball, the clock for no reason froze at 4.3 secs with Juan Antonio Montero picking it up running off, on the fast break! The Greens' fans hearts were in their mouths! Stojan Vrankovic, seeing the danger, started running the most important 30 metres of his life, hurdling over the fallen bodies of Yannakis and John Korfas. Montero was by now under the basket and instead of dunking releases the ball in the air only for a flying Vrankovic to block his shot!

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The clock starts running again but it’s all too late for Barcelona, Panathinaikos are EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS!!

The fans go into a frenzy and the PAO bench floods the court celebrating. Barcelona's players and coaches were appealing against the legality of the block and are proven right by the action replay. Vrankovic blocked the ball after it had struck the board. They will go on to make an official appeal for the legitimacy of the call only for it to be quashed by FIBA who did though later state that Barcelona did have grounds of complaint. The Greens would hit back and say that if the referees had awarded Nikos Economou with two clear fouls earlier the final would have never have come to that point. PAO also pointed out the fact that the clock had frozen and that the game should have been stopped at 4.3 seconds.

It will remain in history as the most controversial finals ever.

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Panathinaikos (Bozidar Maljkovic): Alvertis 17, Economou 10, Yannakis 9, Korfas 4, Stavrakopoulos 9, Vourtzoumis 2, Vrankovic, Wilkins 16.

Barcelona (Aito Reneses): Bosch ,Diez, 0, Fernandez 15, Galilea 10, Godfread 9, Jimenez 9, Karnisovas 23, Ferran, Montero.

3rd Place final: CSKA Moscow Real Madrid 74-73

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Final- 4 Thessaloniki 2000

Semi-Final Match, Panathinaikos versus Efes Pilsen: Panathinaikos was to play Efes Pilsen in the semi-final in front a home court, one could say, since the game was to be held in Greece in PAOK Salonika’s brand new arena.

From the beginning of the game PAO had a 4-6 point advantage until the “Greens” stepped on the pedal through Alvertis and Rebraca to make it 21-11. But a few tactical errors from Obradovic allowed the Turks to bring the score almost to square.

Alvertis was brought back on to man-mark Kutluay and silenced him with Bodiroga now carrying the team in scoring. This took PAO to the dressing rooms with a 9-point lead. In the beginning of the second half, an offensive outpouring came from Fotsis, Bodiroga and two 3-pointers from Alvertis, one which was on the fast break took the differential to 18.

But after the 32nd minute, PAO committed many errors and the Turks showed some fighting spirit to bring down the margin to just 5. That was all they could manage and the subsequent PAO offences were handled by “White Magic” Bodiroga who would score on each occasion with either 2-pointers or free throws after being fouled and the odd shot beyond the arc and the 3,000 fans of the Shamrocks celebrated the 81-71 victory.

Bodiroga was PAO’s top scorer with very good percentages and was followed by Alvertis, Rebraca and Rogers whilst from the Turks, their “big gun” Ibrahim Kutluay was silenced by PAO captain, Fragiskos Alvertis. The best from the Turkish attempts came from Damir Mulaomerovic and Hidayet Turkoglu.

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Panathinaikos was now to meet Israel giants Maccabi Tel- Aviv in the Final.


Panathinaikos (Zelimir Obradovic): Bodiroga 22, Rebraca 15, Alvertis 11, Rogers 9, Gentile 7, Kattash 5, Fotsis 5, Burke 4, Koch 3.

Efes Pilsen (Ergin Ataman): H. Turkoglu 15, D. Mulaomerovic 14, H. Besok 13, P. Drobnjak 11, I. Kutluay 8, R. Winslow 4, O. Onan 3, A. Vekiloglu 3.

Championship Match, Maccabi Tel-Aviv versus Panathinaikos: Maccabi had previously beaten Barcelona BC 65-51 and were underdogs for the final. But, there were many debacles before the game. If PAO’s star point-guard, Odet Katash would be able to play up to his reputation since he was to face his beloved Maccabi where he had served all his previous time at. The pre-match atmosphere was fantastic and the bright yellow colours of Maccabi stood out as did the trade-mark, half-naked Panathinaikos fans who where in good voice singing: "Bring us the European(Trophy)". The PAOK arena was rocking and all were anticipating this great final.

Maccabi had a narrow lead after the first 10 minutes with Zeljko Rebraca keeping PAO close with 12 points. Maccabi was firing on all cylinders and went ahead by 7 points in the 18th minute but “Pana”drew level by half time with two Katash free throws, sending both teams to the dressing rooms with the scores deadlocked at 36-36.

In the 2nd half, PAO took a narrow lead which varied between 2-6 points until the time of Odet Katash and Antonis Fotsis came in the last 10 minutes. Fotsis came off the bench to score 9 points in 6 minutes and Katash, taking advantage of his pace, continuously drove to the Maccabi basket drawing fouls and been sent to the charity line.

Maccabi had not spoken their last words though. Nate Huffman and Ariel Mc Donald brought down the difference to 3 points (60-57). But, (it always looked that there was going to be a “but”), Odet Katsh "banged" in a long three for PAO to lay a strong grasp on the coveted trophy.

Bodiroga then finally awoke from his lethargy taking a crucial rebound and scoring a bucket and two free throws to put PAO ahead by 71-67. The PAO fans were now singing “I will go crazy once I lift the Trophy” and the Maccabi fans had silenced.

Bodiroga scored the games last points with two more free-throws, making the final 73-67 with the PAO bench flooding the court and the PAO players into embracing one another. Panathinaikos was once again European Champion for the 2nd time.

This provoked frenzied celebrations in Athens with thousands of Panathinaikos fans flooding Omonia Square in Athens to celebrate with their songs, horns and fire works. The City of Athens was illuminated by order of the Mayor of Athens and the Greens' fans celebrated well into the night all over Greece.

Zeljko Rebraca was PAO’s best player in the final and carried the team throughout the game even though he was suffering from dizziness, fatigue and blurred vision in the 2nd half. He was closely followed by Odet Katash whom PAO fans acknowledged by singing his name and by the Maccabi fans who would join their green counterparts applauding their former star. Antonis Fotsis’s importance was also of great significance. The 19-year- old came in off the bench scoring vital points and taking crucial rebounds just when “Pana” seemed to be stuck. For Maccabi, the best players were Nate Huffman Ariel Mc Donald and Brisker.

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Zeljko Rebraca was voted MVP of the Final Four and Efes Pilsen beat Barcelona in the 3rd place final.


Panathinaikos (Zelimir Obradovic): Bodiroga 8, Rebraca 20, Alvertis 4, Rogers 4, Gentile 3, Katash 17, Fotsis 9, Burke 7, M. Koch.

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Pini Gerson): Mc Donald 11, Sharp 6, Huffman 26, Comegys 3, Brikser 13, Jamchy 3, Sheffer 6, Shelef, Popa, Henefeld.

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Final- 4 Bologna 2002

Semi-Finals, Maccabi Tel-Aviv versus Panathinaikos: Panathinaikos was regarded as the outsider of this Final Four containing Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Kinder Bologna and Benneton Treviso. The main reason behind this was the fact that PAO lacked the big man that would make the difference in the paint such as Stojko Vrankovic, Dino Radja and Zele Rebraca had made in the past. To make things worse, the “Greens” had recently lost the services of starting centre Yannis Yannoulis after he was banned for using banned sustance nadrolone.

The weight was now to fall on the weiry, old shoulders of 36 year- old Darryl Middleton and a young talented but inexperienced, Lazos Papadopoulos. The "Shamrocks" were to face their old foe Maccabi again, thus creating a tradition and rivalry in Final-4 battles. Maccabi was the big favourite and the PAO fans could only remember in horror, big Nate Huffman hanging from the “Greens” basket in the previous seasons Suproleague final with the “People's Team” getting revenge for the loss in Thessaloniki the year before.

The game was very close and the score closed at 44-44 at half time. “Pana” were somehow managing to contain Huffman and also closing down Anthony Parker’s drives which had given Maccabi a narrow lead which they contained throughout the 3rd quarter. Dejan Bodiroga was also being well contained by the Israeli defence and had only contributed with 5 points in the 1st half.

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PAO fans were anxious because they would ask themselves how long could the team stay in the game without the presence of its best man. Then, all of a sudden Bodiroga woke up scoring 8 consecutive points and giving PAO a 6-8 point lead! In conjunction to this big Lazos Papadopoulos rose to the occasion with points, rebounds, blocks and putting Huffman out of the game since Huffman could not deal with Papadopoulos' 2.12 cm. Papadopoulos became a bully in the paint and victory was being grasped by Greek hands. “Deki” Bodiroga finished on 26 points with Alvertis, Middleton and Papadopoulos making significant contributions. Maccabi’s best were Burnstein, Parker and Huffman. Panathinaikos won with slight ease towards the end by 83-75 and was to face the victor of the Italian “civil war”, Kinder Bologna.


Panathinaikos (Zelimir Obradovic): Alvertis 11, Kalaiztis 2, Rogers 5, Mulaomerovic 6, Bodiroga 26, Middleton 15, Albano, Papadopoulos 9, Sanchez.

Maccabi (Pini Gerson): Henefeld, Sharp 3, Huffman 16, Parker 11, Shelef 8, Burstein 18, Halperin, Curcic 3, Mc Donald 11, Besok 5.

Championship Match, Panathinaikos versus Kinder Bologna: If Panathinaikos was regarded the outsider for this Final Four, Kinder Bologna was the favourite. Not only were they playing on Italian soil, but also in their home court in front of their majority own fans.

About 500 PAO fans made their way to Bologna and although swamped by the Kinder Sea of Black and White, the "Greens" made their presence felt again in their classical by now, “skins” or half- naked dress.

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The “Bolognese” featured the magnificent scoring machine named Manu Ginobili (Future NBA champion) plus Matijas Smodis and Antoinne "Le Roi" Rigaudeau. At the start of the game Kinder were looking as though they were going to trounce the "Shamrocks".

After the 1st ten minutes Kinder started to build a lead which reached 45-31 and things were not looking good for “Pana”. Something needed to be done and after Rashard Griffith reached his 3rd foul Obradovic threw in Papadopoulos. The aftermath of that change was immediate.

Papadopoulos' presence was being felt and no longer could Smodis and Griffith run the show in the paint and PAO brought the differential down to 8 points (48-40) at half time. At the beginning of the 2nd half, Papadopoulos not only drew Smodis’ 3rd foul but also took two rebounds and scored 5 points with Bodiroga and Kutluay also contributing to give the Shamrocks the lead with 55-53 for the rest of the game the teams would go neck and neck with PAO holding a 2-4 point lead. Then came the moment of Ibrahim Kutluay who the season before had been signed from AEK Athens and who had 2 seasons before tasted the bitter taste of defeat against his current team when at Efes Pilsen.

The Turk downed 2 big three’s to give PAO 80-72 lead, but Kinder fought back to make it 80-82 with a minute to go. But Becirovic missed 1/4 free throws! The Kutluay faked Becirovic into the air before sinking the key shot from behind the arc! It was 85-80 with 45 seconds left and Kinder had to put Panathinaikos on the free-throw line. Kutluay missed 2 of 4 in the next 11 seconds, before Ginobili drew Bodiroga's fifth foul on a three-pointer. Ginobili made his three, but Kutluay added two more to make it 83-89 and in the proccess making Panathinaikos winner and champion of the 2001-02 Euroleague!

A special mention must be made to Ibrahim Kutluay who carried PAO at the death after Bodiroga had been fouled out. This though would not have been possible had not Bodiroga and Papadopoulos carried the team through out the game.


Panathinaikos ( Zelimir Obradovic): Alvertis, 11, Rogers, 7, Mulaomerovic 6, Bodiroga 21, Middleton 10, Kutluay 22, Papadopoulos 12, Sanchez, Kalaitzis.

Kinder Bologna (Etore Messina): Ginobili 27, Becirovic 4, Granger 10, David Andersen 3, Rigaudeau 3, Griffith 2, Smodis 23, Jaric 11.

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its a pitty you didnt get it.

there is always a next year.

yeah it's a pity Pana didnt win it and Oly won it... oh no wait a minute no they didn't. Were they fighting to stay in the A1 or something? Same as always though, all the Oly fans will be saying that since they won it all in football they don't care about basketball.

Oh and one more thing... where's the big european team that Mr Kokkalis promised or you just thought you'd make Rosenborg a big european team? :D

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its a pitty you didnt get it.

there is always a next year.

yeah it's a pity Pana didnt win it and Oly won it... oh no wait a minute no they didn't. Were they fighting to stay in the A1 or something? Same as always though, all the Oly fans will be saying that since they won it all in football they don't care about basketball.

Oh and one more thing... where's the big european team that Mr Kokkalis promised or you just thought you'd make Rosenborg a big european team? :D

Funny post but next time look and find out who ch-Thrylos is before you suspect he is sarcastic and reply to him in the same way...

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