This championship could not be lost and the name of Olympiacos was in scripted early on the valuable trophy. The “reds” came back to the top of the Greek Championship edging Panathinaikos in the fifth final 82-76, bringing joy to millions of their fans all over the world.

This championship could not be lost and the name of Olympiacos was in scripted early on the valuable trophy. The “reds” came back to the top of the Greek Championship edging Panathinaikos in the fifth final 82-76, bringing joy to millions of their fans all over the world.

From the beginning of the last game of the season, the Dusan Ivkovic players showed they weren’t going to lose this game. Focused 100% and gaining strength from 12,000 fans that created a unique atmosphere in the stands of the Peace and Friendship stadium; they set the foundation and gained control of the final. 

Captain Vassilis Spanoulis was the one to show the way and his team mates followed him in a unique performance. Panathinaikos tried many times to change the momentum of the game but each time found one of Ivkovic’ players standing tall. It was Sloukas with a large three point shot that set the gym on … fire at the beginning of the second half and when the score was 48-45, while just a few minutes later and with Panathinaikos as close as 57-51, it was Acie Law with six consecutive points that took the lead to two digits. 

Panathinaikos did not surrender and in the last five minutes of the final gave it his last shot going to a four points game following a 5-0 streak. The guests could have come even closer should Calathes had made the three-pointer he shot, but he didn’t and Printezis with a dunk gave the final blow and sent the Olympiacos fans to the seventh heaven.

Just a few minutes later, captain Vassilis Spanoulis together with Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos held high in the Peace and Friendship Stadium’s sky the valuable trophy and after all the players and the Olympiacos staff were given ovations after receiving the Greek Champions’ medals.

Τhe quarters: 24-20, 48-36, 70-56, 82-76.
Per quarter: 24-20, 24-16, 22-20, 12-20.
Οlympiacos (Ivkovic): Hines 4, Law 10(1), Antic 3(1), Spanoulis 24(3), Κeselj 5, Dorsey 4, Papadopoulos 1, Gecevicius 2, Printezis 14, Papanikolaou 8, Mantzaris 4, Sloukas 3(1).
Panathinaikos (Οbradovic): Μaric 6, Perperoglou 11(3), Batiste 7, Logan, Sato, Τsartsaris 1, Diamantides 13(1),Vougioukas 4, Calathes 17(1), Smith, Kaimakoglou 10(1), Jasikevicius 4.

The champions’ quotes…

DUSAN IVKOVIC: “The whole of the success belongs to the players. All the staff has been united. When I’m talking about the staff, I mean everyone. Even the equipment managers. The administration and the Angelpoulos family have helped us a lot. We can never offer the same pleasure we get from the game itself. I wish to thank the fans for packing the gym. And I don’t want to forget something. I wish to talk about the family of my friend, Dimitris Mitropanos. I wish to dedicate this to him. He had been a great friend and a huge Olympiacos fan”, ‘Duda’ stressed in the beginning with the room bursting in applause when hearing the Mitropanos name. 

… on the great Olympiacos victory and Vassilis Spanoulis: “About the game, basketball and Olympiacos, after winning the Euroleague we continued improving. From averaging 65 points we got to 80 and against a great opponent such as Pananthinaikos.
Certain down-town three-pointers helped us, scored from a very long distance. We deserved to win. We helped one another. I believe that what we did is a new beginning. It’s a new start. I also think the element of luck was also present. It’s a new beginning. We are very lucky to have Spanoulis as our captain. We are very lucky to have players like Vassilis and Papadopoulos, who played.
As you know, champagne and drinks are necessary in moments like that. I’m going to really miss these guys from tomorrow”.

... on the young guys: “ I think you understand what I mean when I say about a new beginning. I believe that European basketball can be saved. We should start a new movement for young people. We played a great European tournament. We have had great improvement. No one believed we would make the TOP-16. Time worked in our favor step by step. Like I said in Paris, not even one player from that team played. It’s not easy finding chemistry in basketball. For me, it’s very important finding such players. I’m justified for deciding to return to Olympiacos. I hadn’t been sure about this”.

…on how great their achievement is: “It’s hard to judge which the greatest achievement is. We cannot say about the two titles. We almost won the Cup as well. Then we said we should keep our heads high. The criteria for a coach are not titles. It’s difficult to say whether this is the greatest success. We won on having a very good program. I want to talk about someone who I work with for years and is behind this team. Giorgos Leon, who has been with us. He said that we have had the best preparation and concentration levels at the right moment”.

…on his future: “Look now. It’s not the time for me to say whether I’m staying. I’ll have talks. We’ll see. The point is to have good people to work with. This team should stick together. The administration knows very well what has to be done. Budgets don’t win. It’s a new movement. With more work and more trust in young players. We can’t judge a player from his contract. Whether he’s good, modest or bad. You fight with what you’ve got”.

…on the young Greeks who stood out: “They are very important for Greek basketball. I’m lucky. It’s difficult to talk about teams. There are no Greeks and no foreigners. It’s a great team. Dorsey and Law made the biggest difference. Experienced players that can make a difference. When Naismith created this game in the University made the US the mother of the game. This is where it’s at its best. We shouldn’t put so much trust in mediocre players. That’s why I’m talking about a new movement. Young guys are really important for Greek basketball and Olympiacos”.

...on whether psychology was a factor: “Psychology is a huge factor. I spoke to a teacher who told me about psychology. I work with the team a lot. Even when we were losing by 19, I was telling the team we should fight. I never said that Olympiacos is the outsider. But it helped us a lot not to have pressure during the Final Four. The other teams were there as well”.

VASSILIS SPANOULIS: “We completed a complex season for the team. This team grew up and showed to have character in no time. We built a team from the beginning. We believed in it. What you see has come through hard work. We won another final tonight, this team has been playing finals since November.
We built character. I don’t recall any team improving that much during a season. Joys are less than sorrows. These days that we are experiencing are wonderful, but we all have to stand by the team. The coach always believed in us, no matter we never said so.

I’m proud for my team mates, for everyone. I wish this is the beginning to win us more trophies. It’s been an incredible season. What can we say? That nobody believed us to make the TOP-16? And we succeeded in winning both the Euroleague and the Championship after 15 years.

It’s a huge success and now is the moment when we have to stand by this team.

We have built a base and I believe we should stay as is to bring more success. It hadn’t been difficult years. You can be proud not just when you win titles, you can be proud about everything, when you leave with your head up high. Each defeat makes you stronger to fight for the championship. I once again say that I’m very content to be here.

ΚOSTAS PAPANIKOLAOU: When you see the rewards for the struggles of a whole year you cannot be anything but happy. It’s a unique moment. I’m not going to talk big about myself, whoever does that, is wrong. I have worked, I work and I will continue working to become better. We can say a lot, but we have a lot of young guys with us and we need to keep working.

VANGELIS MANTZARIS: The greatest success is that we managed to bring the fans back in the gym. I personally don’t remember having seen the gym as full in the past. I don’t think we were never in danger; we just got stressed at some point in the game, when they closed the margin. What we keep is the win and the title.
We proved to be the better team and we could have won in OAKA. We did not make it due to our mistakes, but we hold on to what we have achieved. The important thing is to keep the base since this is what’s important with a team. You see what Panathinaikos has done all those years…

ΜARKO KESELJ: In the last 20 days, we beat Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos, the last one three time.
We proved to be the best team in Europe. For sure, it’s the highlight of my career. We had an incredible time these last few days.
We are the just champions. I hadn’t expected that kind of reaction from our fans, I haven’t experienced anything like this before.

ACIE LAW: I’m so tired; I don’t have the strength to celebrate. I’m very happy for the title, our fans deserved it.
I knew very well that winning the Euroleague was nothing for our fans. They had wanted the championship and we gave it to them.

It was the end of the '30s when the Olympiacos Basketball team was founded with players form the "Ionidio" School. Great personalities of Greek basketball wore the 'red' shirt, coaches wrote history, victories came and Olympiacos played a leading role inside and outside the Greek borders.
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