By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Still, the hosts remained calm, regained the lead, and won in the last seconds 73-70 to make the first step to another domestic trophy.
Sasha Vezenkov led the winning side with 20 points and seven rebounds, but the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague MVP and Top scorer had 16 points in the first quarter. Thomas Walkup added 13 with seven assists, Kostas Sloukas finished the start of the final series with 12 points, and Moustapha Fall added 11.
As for Panathinaikos, Marius Grigonis led the way with 17 points, including a three-pointer that gave his team the lead (66-65) with two minutes on the clock. Paris Lee followed him with 14 and eight assists, while Mateusz Ponitka had nine, but seven of his points came in the last quarter.
Violent welcome against Panathinaikos and drama in the last moments
The situation calmed down, the game started as scheduled, and Vezenkov dominated from the get-go, scoring more points than Panathinaikos in the first ten minutes (16-14), with just two missed shots. Olympiacos was in control until the last couple of minutes of the first half when the guests finally showed their teeth. Still, Georgios Bartzokas’s team had a 41-33 lead after 20 minutes.
But Greens pushed again at the beginning of the third period and came with just a point. After a great fight, Olympiacos pushed back and regained a double-digit lead before the last break.
PAO refused to give up and, led by Ponitka, Panagiotis Kalaitzakis, and Marius Grigonis, made an 18-4 run to turn things around with two minutes on the clock (66-65 lead for Panathinaikos). Walkup and Fall gave Olympiacos their lead back, and Sloukas scored four consecutive free throws in the last 50 seconds for the win.
Game 2 in OAKA Arena is scheduled for June 8 at 20.15 CET. The finals are played in the best-of-five series.