By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps it was simply coincidence. Others though might call it a matter of pure, sheer “Destiny” that AEK Athens won a European title this season.
Fifty years after winning the first continental trophy not only for the franchise but also for Greek Basketball, AEKwas crowned Basketball Champions League champion by beating AS Monaco 100 – 94 in the Final, in front of 18.000 fans that crowded OAKA arena.
Veteran point guard Mike Green was also named MVP of the Final Four after dropping a game-high 19 points, while Kevin Punter and Dusan Sakota scored 16 each. Delroy James had 13 crucial points.
From Monaco, that didn’t manage to go all the way in it second consecutive appearance in the Basketball Champions League Final Four, Sergii Gladyr was distinguished with 18 points while Gerald Robinson added 13.
This was the third European championship in the history of AEK, after their triumph over Slavia Prague in the 1968 Cup Winners’ cup and the 2000 Saporta Cup title. And it all happened mainly thanks to a fiery assault that took place in the opening stretch of the fourth quarter.
Following a 3-pointer by Giannoulis Larentzakis that put his team up 71 -61, Monaco launched a counterattack thanks to Sergii Gladyr’s back-to-back 3-pointers, including the third-quarter buzzer beater for the 73 – 70, AEK proceeded to pummel its opponents.
Punter did the beginning with seven personal points that brought his team up 80 – 73 from 73 – 71, captain Sakota rode this momentum with consecutive buckets and then Punter struck again to give AEK 12-point advantage, 89 – 77 with a bit more than five minutes remaining.
Monaco tried to react while their opponents preserved a lead around double digits. But this wasn’t the end.
Paul Lacombe scored for the 94 – 87 with two minutes left and then DJ Cooper banged a triple that made it 96 – 90 and then sank free throws for the 97 – 92 with 54 seconds remaining. Gladyr put his team at a shooting distance, 97 – 94 but a turnover gave Delroy James the opportunity to make it a two-possession affair, 99 – 94 with 11 seconds left. It was over.