Just a couple of weeks ago, as Olympiacos polished off Aris in the EƩAKE semifinals with a couple of convincing wins to bring the Reds’ record against Greek sides to 36-0 in 2010-11, some observers were calling out for the brooms. After Sunday night’s play, cries of “sweep!” surely rang out across Hellas – but it’s the seven-time defending champion Greens who are positioning themselves to win in straight games.
Looking at the larger picture, however, a third win (and subsequent 3-0 series win for the 8th consecutive title) by PAO on Wednesday could be quite the Pyrrhic victory for PAO and the league.
While Mike Batiste (19 points, four rebounds), Dimitris Diamantidis (15 points) and Antonis Fotsis (eight rebounds) all had fine games for Panathinaikos, many observers – including key Olympiacos/Team Greece members – all chalk up the loss to those extra men on the court, i.e. the referees. Amid the boxscore statistics, most damning is that 31-9 line, as in Panathinaikos got 22 more trips to the free-throw line than Olympiacos.
Diamantidis, Batiste and Kostas Tsartsaris combined for 17-of-21 shooting from the line and no basketball expertise was needed to see that the aggressive inside game played by the Reds in the first half (leading them to a 43-37 lead) was barely in evidence over the second 20 minutes as whistle after whistle blew.
As a result, the requisite highlight clips were overtaken on YouTube and sports news by Ioanissis Bourousis, who stated in the post-game that he had resigned from further play with the Greek national team, thanks to widespread corruption in the league. Bourousis’ frustrations mirrored those of BallinEurope reader Christopher, who, in the wee hours this morning commented that, “Greek basketball league is an incredible disgrace. Game 2 was reffed 90-10 in favor of Panathinaikos. That is the most disgraceful and shameful league in the world.
“Even the rigged NBA has nothing on in in terms of corruption.
“It’s all backfiring on them now. Bourousis quit the national team saying he would no longer play for Greece since the league is rigged every year.
“And from what I hear other Greek Olympiacos players (Mavrokefalidis, Spanoulis, Papaloukas, Papanikolaou, Printezis, Pelekanos, Katsivelis, Sloukas, Vasilopoulos, Glyniadakis) are also going to refuse to play for the Greek national team if the refs don’t stop rigging the games in the rest of the series.
“Guess it was good for Panathinaikos while it lasted with all those years of rigging the league. They have now destroyed the Greek national team. Congrats.”
Jokes and schadenfreude aside, this is indeed a fitting end to one hell of a season (literally) in Greek basketball. What can be done…?