Today, we give this platform to our Greek friends, Drazen and Scire from the Double Team Blog, to discuss Panathinaikos Athens.
After a short break last year, Panathinaikos returns to the Final Four. Of course, the aim can be no less than the fifth Euroleague Championship in the last thirteen years. Headcoach Zeljko Obradovic also wants his seventh Euroleague Championship (and the fourth with Panathinaikos).
The mission is difficult, but the Greens like difficult situations, as they proved with the easy wins in three days at Siena to get into the playoffs. In the semifinal, Panathinaikos faces eternal rival Olympiacos in a classic civil derby. Tradition says that when two teams from the same country play in the semifinal, the winner has never won the trophy, with one exception: Only Joventut Badalona in 1994, coached by Zeljko Obradovic, did it. Furthermore, the other semifinal between Regal Barcelona and CSKA Moscow will be also a highly contested game, so none of the winners has a clear advantage for the trophy.
Panathinaikos is counting on the experience that the coaching staff and most of their players have in these games (even the bencher Hatzivrettas is participating in a Final Four for the fourth time). Dimitris Diamantidis has faced some injury problems over the last month, but he’ll be ready at the 1st of May … and if Diamantidis is 100% ready, Panathinaikos rises a level. Drew Nicholas and Vassilis Spanoulis played some great games after the Top 16 and everybody is hoping they continue to do so. And of course, Sarunas Jasikevicius (who has three Euroleague titles in a row in three final four bids) will always be there to unlock the opponent’s defense with his passes while teaching how to play pick-and-roll with the most stable player in the front line, Mike Batiste.
Panathinaikos expects a lot from Kostas Tsartsaris and Antonis Fotsis in scoring and rebounding, while it will be interesting to see how the talented (but inexperienced in “do-or-die” games) Stratos Perperoglou and Nikola Pekovic react. Last but not least, captain Fragiskos Alvertis in his ninth final four participation also wants his fifth Euroleague Championship to finish his career after nineteen seasons with the club. Also, don’t forget that Zeljko Obradovic usually saves surprises for the opponents during the final four games. Presidents Pavlos and Thanasis Giannakopoulos and the many Panathinaikos fans who will be in Berlin expect a lot from them, and we are hoping that they will not disappoint us.
Final four prediction:
2) Regal Barcelona
3) CSKA Moscow
See you in Berlin!
written by Drazen and Scire