A Cinderella Tale

olympiacos piraeus is the winner of the turkish airlines euroleague final four.

The matches, played at Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome May 11 - 13, were a basketball fairy tale played out between Greece’s Olimpiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens, Spain’s FC Barcelona Regal and Russia’s CSKA Moscow. The first match in the Final Four pitted Panathinaikos against CSKA Moscow in a bitter contest that got off to a quick start as the Lucky Clovers, with a shooting percentage of 12/17, ended the first quarter ahead 29-15. Getting its act together in the second quarter, CSKA Moscow closed the gap and in the end was the team that made it to the final.

The second match of the day, between Olimpiacos Piraeus and FC Barcelona Regal, turned out to be a virtual preview of the championship. Scoring baskets with star Vassilis Spanoulis at the start of the match, the red and white jerseys kept up the momentum provided by Printeais and Dorsey to close the first half ahead by 33-29. In the second half, although FC Barcelona Regal tried to hold on to the game with baskets by star Carlos Navarro, it was Olimpiacos Piraeus that went on to the final with a score of 68-64.

On the second day of the event, everyone was focused on the final match. But first, day one’s two losing teams faced off in a contest that ended 74-69 in favor of FC Barcelona Regal, who defeated last year’s champion Panathinaikos to become Europe’s third best. And then the final: on one side, CSKA Moscow, one of European basketball’s best squads of recent years with Krilenko, Shved and Teodosic, on the other Olimpiacos Piraeus, who lost several of their players to the economic crisis. As if to live up to fans’ expectations, favorite CSKA Moscow started off very fast, pulling ahead by half time 34-20 thanks to Andrei Krilenko’s offensive and defensive performance and, especially, Milos Teodosic’s three 3-pointers in one minute.

Although Olimpiacos recovered somewhat in the second half, the score was already 53-34 in the 28th minute. Remembering, and reminding spectators, that ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’, Olimpiacos Piraeus narrowed the difference from that moment on with baskets by Kostas Papanikalous and Printezis, entering the last 10 seconds just one point behind to win the cup with a last basket just 0.07 of a second short of the final whistle. Receiving their cup from Turkish Airlines’ Board Chairman Hamdi Topçu, Olimpiacos reminded us all of the great basketball virtues - team play, patience and, most of all, believing. And Istanbul, with its flawless organization, proved once again that it is the supreme venue for such events.

About Vassilis Spanoulis
With averages of 16.7 points and 4.0 assists per match this season, Vassilis Spanoulis, whose nickname is “Kill Bill”, had a big hand in Olimpiacos Piraeus’ championship this year. Voted most valuable player of the Final Four following the final match, Spanoulis accepted his award from Turkish Airlines Executive Committee and Board of Directors Chairman Hamdi Topçu.

Champions of the last 10 years
2002 Panathinaikos
2003 Barcelona
2004 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
2005 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
2006 CSKA Moscow
2007 Panathinaikos
2008 CSKA Moscow
2009 Panathinaikos
2010 Barcelona
2011 Panathinaikos
2012 Olympiacos