Panathinaikos beats CSKA to win Euroleague title

Ramunas Siskauskas' two free throws with five seconds left sent crowd of 18,000 at the Athens Olympic Hall into wild celebrations.

cska 88 (photo credit: )
cska 88
(photo credit: )
Panathinaikos won its fourth Euroleague title by beating defending champion CSKA Moscow 93-91 Sunday. Ramunas Siskauskas made two free throws with five seconds left to secure victory and send the crowd of 18,000 at the Athens Olympic Hall into wild celebrations. It was a record sixth title for coach Zeljko Obradovic, who has won with four different teams - three times with Panathinaikos since 2000. "We worked throughout the season with the aim of coming here and winning the title," Obradovic said. "It was a great game tonight, both teams played very good basketball." "I am very proud how my players played the entire season," he said. "I am happy with my players and that's important, not my record. I told my players this is not the last title. Next year they can fight for another Final Four." Panathinaikos led 46-36 at halftime, largely thanks to a big second quarter, when the Greek club tied a Final Four record by scoring 28 points. "We were stronger," said Panathinaikos point guard Dimitris Diamantidis, voted the game's best player. "Both in terms of strategy and mentally we managed to be on top from the start of the game. "We played very well offensively and defensively." CSKA rallied in the second half and tied the game 47-47 on a pair of layups by Theo Papaloukas. After Panathinaikos was called for a technical foul, Papaloukas gave CSKA the lead 51-50 with a pair of free throws. Diamantidis replied with a 3-pointer and six straight free throws by Dejan Tomasevic, Hatzivrettas and Tomasevic again restored Panathinaikos to a 65-55 lead. A late surge by CSKA, including two consecutive 3-pointers by Trajan Langdon pulled the Russian side within 87-85 with less than a minute remaining. Mike Batiste hit a turnaround jumper to increase Panathinaikos' lead to four. Matjaz Smodis converted one of two free throw attempt with 22 seconds left for CSKA, but Milos Vujanic sunk two free throws to hike Panathinaikos' leade to five. After Smodis was called for an offensive foul, Siskauskas missed both free throws and Papaloukas dunked, before Siskauskas made the decisive free throws. J.R. Holden hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but CSKA could not retain the title it had won five times. Papaloukas, the only Greek player in CSKA ranks, ignored constant jeers from the Greek crowd and finished with a game-high 23 points to go with eight assists. Siskauskas led Panathinaikos with 20. Diamantidis finished with 15 points, missing only one of six free throws, for a 27th birthday present. Tomasevic, celebrating his 34th birthday, finished with 16 points - one of six Panathinaikos players in double figures. Smodis had 18 points for CSKA and Langdon added 16. "We got too short in crucial moments," CSKA coach Ettore Messina said. "We got momentum in the second quarter but I could not rest my key players." "We didn't have good balance inside and outside." Earlier, Markus Brown's layup with 1.2 seconds left gave Unicaja Malaga a 76-74 win over Tau Ceramica in the third-place game. Brown, who had 14 points, tied the score with two free throws before sinking a 3-pointer with under two minutes left to put Unicaja ahead for the only time in the all-Spanish game until the final basket. Unicaja had trailed 61-51 at the end of the third period. Unicaja was in its first Final Four appearance, while Tau Ceramica was in its third straight. Marko Tusek scored 18 points and Pepe Sanchez had eight assists for Unicaja, which made 13-of-26 3-point attempts. For Tau, Igor Rakocevic had 16 points, Zoran Planinic 15 and Luis Scola 14. Rakocevic and Scola had three costly turnovers between them late in the game.