Euroleague Final: Panathinaikos make epic comeback on Stage

Panathinaikos managed to overcome a 36-point deficit in the first quarter against Real Madrid and, thanks to an outstanding performance by Sloukas, they were able to claim their seventh Euroleague Final Four basketball title in their franchise history.

The highly anticipated Euroleague Final Four basketball game between Madrid and Panathinaikos was set to be a momentous event, regardless of which team emerged victorious.

The Spanish giants are aiming for their first consecutive victory since 1968, which would also increase their European count to 12. Meanwhile, the Greeks are vying for their first championship in 15 years and the title of the most successful team of the century. Panathinaikos entered the final with a record of six wins in 11 Final Four appearances (55%), while Madrid had a respectable 38% success rate with five wins in 13 appearances.

In the first quarter, Madrid had a strong offensive start, led by Ndiaye who scored 8 points, including 2 three-pointers. The pick-and-roll play of Musa was also effective and served as a key weapon for the Spanish team.

The team started to distance themselves from their adversaries, who showed a lack of assertiveness in their defensive strategy and faced difficulties in getting the ball to Lessort (who was outshone by Tavares and Poirier). They heavily depended on Nunn (who took 7 shots in the quarter, compared to the next most active player who took only 2) and later on Sloukas, a specialist in rising to the occasion when faced with challenges.

Following a strong start with a score of 36-25 in the first quarter, Panathinaikos took a different approach in the second quarter. They displayed a highly aggressive defense on the ball, capitalizing on the lack of Campazzo, Musa, and Hezonja who were rotated out. This boosted their confidence in their offensive play, despite scoring only 25 points in the previous quarter.

Lessort was successfully brought into the game, where he outperformed his fellow countryman Poirier. This allowed them to turn the score from 27-41 to 49-54 (with a 22-13 advantage), clearly demonstrating their superior performance in the first half against Madrid’s sluggish and ineffective offensive lineup, which included Chacho Rodriguez, Rudy, and Llull playing together.

At the onset of Lessort and Luka Vildoza’s emergence, Sloukas took control and managed to close the first half with a narrow margin of five points behind the current European title holders (54-49).

In the third quarter, Madrid experienced a typical slump for the first 5 minutes, which was the lowest point for Chus Mateo’s team. Due to a lack of intensity, they were dominated by Panathinaikos. Adding to their troubles, Campazzo, who had been a key player in their defense, received his third foul and was forced to exit the game.

The Spanish team had a dismal quarter in all aspects. Their success rate for three-point shots decreased from 4 out of 6 to 4 out of 18. However, the most significant impact was the decline in their overall score as they were unsuccessful in utilizing the center of the court as they did in the beginning of the game.

In their pursuit of the league title, Real Madrid managed to score 36 points in the opening quarter, followed by 18 points in the second quarter, and a mere 7 points in the third – a notably subpar performance.

After that moment, it became confusing and overwhelming for Madrid. They lacked energy and determination, especially when Campazzo (12 points and 4 assists) had to leave the game due to fouls. Despite Sergio Llul’s two successful three-pointers providing a glimmer of hope, their chances were quickly diminished by the impressive performance of Kostas Sloukas (a former star player of their rivals Olympiacos), who was undoubtedly the MVP. The Greek point guard scored a total of 24 points without missing a single shot (2-of-2 from two-point range and 4-of-4 from three-point range). He only missed one of his nine free throws and also contributed 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 7 fouls. His overall evaluation was an impressive 31 points.

Panathinaikos exhibited effortless play, a victorious mindset, and a flawless overall approach, proving themselves as true champions by not only performing better, but also effectively transforming the 36 points they initially gave up in the first quarter into nearly the same amount in the following three quarters (remarkably, only allowing 44 points in 30 minutes), an astonishing display of defensive adaptability.

The Most Valuable Player for the European basketball league, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, was announced on May 26, 2024, with a clover emoji and a link to a tweet that included the hashtag #MVP.

Their seventh EuroLeague title, with a final dominating 95-80 win, solidified their position as the second most accomplished team in Europe (and potentially the entire world, second only to the NBA). They now have a total of 7 titles, narrowly trailing behind CSKA Moscow’s 8.

Honors in EuroLeague:

Real Madrid has won a total of 11 titles.

With 8 titles, CSKA Moscow has a strong track record.

With a record of 7 titles, Panathinaikos has had great success.

Maccabi Tel Aviv has won a total of 6 titles.

Varese Basketball Team has won a total of 5 championships.

3 titles have been won by Olympiacos, Olimpia Milano, ASK Riga, and KK Split collectively.

The teams that have won two titles are Barcelona, Bologna, Efes, Pallacanestro Cantu, and Cibona.

The teams that have claimed the title include Dinamo Tbilisi, Fenerbahçe, Joventut Badalona, Zalgiris Kaunas, KK Bosna, Roma, Partizan, and Limoges.

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