Panathinaikos Greek Hoop Champs

For the first time in seven years, Panathinaikos didn’t have to play its perennial rival and archenemy Olympiakos in the final for the Greek Cup and it made this year’s title a lot easier. The Greeks won their 15th title with a runaway 90-53 destruction of Aris of Thessaloniki, although it was a tight game for a half.

In the semi-finals, Panathinaikos had beaten the European champions Olympiakos, who suffered through a mediocre season the domestic league after riding high last year.

Aris looked like it was heading toward a possible upset after holding Panathinaikos to a 40-40 after being up by as much as five points. The second half was an execution, with the winners outscoring Aris, 50-13 in an absolute obliteration in basketball terms, destroying any sense of tension.

The easy win, played on Crete, came without the injured James “Airlines” Gist, a former University of Maryland star, that seemed to give Aris an impetus as its young players struggled mightily against the favorites, backed by an experienced coach, Milan Minic, who had already done the seemingly impossible by getting his team to the final.

Ramel Curry, scorer of 17 points in 21 minutes, was voted the Most Valuable Player of the final.

It was the 19th consecutive season with at least one trophy for the Greens, who are also three points clear at the top of the league.“This was a very good start, it is the first title of the season,” said team captain Dimitris Diamantidis.

Unlike the wars between fans when Olympiakos played Panathinaikos, the final was quiet in the stands, especially after Panathinaikos gave Aris fans nothing to cheer about in the second half.