Those in the know about European basketball (or sport, really) need no introduction to either of these storied franchises who add another chapter to the annals tonight: Panathinaikos Athens goes to Barcelona to take on the Blaugrana in a decisive game five Euroleague quarterfinal match – after one heck of a series thus far.
Hyperbolization of these teams’ history – not to mention the nail-biting, cliffhanging suspense of this very playoff series – would be difficult and doing so would be bland. So BallinEurope will simply say that the series between these two clubs has Panathinaikos with a 15-12 overall advantage historically, and let’s get to the YouTubes. Enjoy quite a fascinating collection of a virtual Who’s Who of highlights; once again, YouTube rules.
(Incidentally, if this collection seems slightly PAO-biased, apologies. Perhaps the Greek side’s fans are ahead in the video-sharing sphere as well…)
Panathinaikos and Barcelona met under the proper Euroleague banner at the very tail end of the 1993-94 season. In the third-place game, Nikos Gallis capped another EL scoring- and assist-leading season (23.8 and 4.7 per game, respectively) by leading PAO to a 100-83 win in the first game between the clubs in 12 years — back to the Champions Cup days.
Barca was victimized a few years later by PAO, this time falling in the 1996 Euroleague title game in Paris – after topping the Greens twice in the eighth-final round of play. And of course this also marked Panathinaikos’ first European championship…
…and also the highest-level club title taken by Dominique Wilkins, an all-time great who played before his time (i.e. the YouTube Era).
Helming the Panathinaikos side this season has been certain Euroleague coach of the year candidate Argiris Pedoulakis – but game one of this series represented the first time in 16 meetings that Zeljko Obradovic wasn’t occupying that space in the huddle. Though the list of hardware the rumored potential NBA coach ran up in Greece is extensive, but Barca consistently stymied the man in their meetings between 2003-2011: Obradovic’s record against the Blaugrana was just 7-8.
And there’s one guy legendary in both circles: Sarunas Jasikevicius, having won titles with both Panathinaikos and Barcelona (the only player aside from Dejan Bodiroga, no?) and just one of the all-time great winners in Euroleague history with four titles for three teams – including both these clubs – on his CV. Could this in fact be Saras’ final run, particularly if Barca wins the big prize…?
Amid his monstrous 2006-07 and the first of three titles in the decade, Dimitris Diamantidis smoked the Juan Carlos Navarro-led Barca in the top 16 round, running up an incredible 102 points on ‘em. All DD would end up with that season was a Euroleague Final Four MVP, an All-Euroleague first team nod, a Euroleague Best Defender trophy and the Greek League MVP title.
In November 2007, the defending champions held home court in the EL regular season, handling Barca, 76-66. This would be the last time Panathinaikos won against Barcelona in Greece for 3½ years. Incidentally, remember when Euroleague game highlight clips used to look like this? BiE kinda digs the style, actually…
During the 2009-10 campaign, Barca made it four Euroleague wins in a row by topping the Greens in the Top 16 round twice. In the second go-around had the Blaugrana nipping the Greens, 70-67. Looking at the clip of that game, however, BiE wonders just how anyone in Europe except the team doctor ever stopped Nikola Pekovic…
Once again on the road to the title, Panathinaikos met with the Spanish side in 2011 in a quarterfinal series about as hard-fought, gritty and nervewracking for each fanbase as this year’s. Game three saw PAO take the 2-1 lead over the ballyhooed Barcelona side that season…
…before finally advancing to the Final Four and the top of the podium. Here’s a nice encapsulation of the entire series, done up with *that* track from “Requiem for a Dream” that instantly makes any basketball highlight clip on YouTube better (ultimate evidence here)
You want atmosphere? Here’s what the ending of game four in those 2010-11 Euroleague quarterfinals looked like.
As for this year, you’ve probably seen in all, so just a few more. Barcelona’s nail-biting game one win, in which the old Saras fieldgeneralmanship (caution, non-native speakers: not a real word) was on full display, Juan Carlos was kingly, and week MVP Ante Tomic continued his steady rise up BallinEurope’s Euroleague MVP ballot…
Finally, here’s the final result of another Diamantidis-Navarro tete-a-tete, culminating in DD hitting what would be the game-winning three in game three, followed by a little more of the stifling defense so characteristic of this entire series. Who’s ready for another…?
Tags: Ante Tomic, basketball highlights, Dimitris Diamantidis, Dominique Wilkins, Euroleague, Euroleague 2012-13, FC Barcelona, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Pekovic, Nikos Gallis, Panathinaikos Athens, Sarunas Jasikevicius, YouTube, Zeljko Obradovic