ATHENS – A Greek prosecutor is investigating a complaint Panathinaikos basketball club owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos threatened Olympiacos captain Vassilis Spanoulis.
Spanoulis had riled the crowd during his team’s 77-66 victory over Panathinaikos, intensifying the rivalry between Greece’s mortal basketball enemies whose fans hate each other.
Spanoulis is due to be called to give evidence this week and will be asked whether he wants to file charges against Giannakopoulos, who is alleged to have threatened the Greece international, as well as his family.
The game between the two sides had to be temporarily suspended after Panathinaikos fans spilled onto the court when Spanoulis celebrated after scoring, taunting the Greens crowd which went wild.
Giannakopoulos issued a statement saying he acted out of character and that he spoke to Spanoulis to explain what he said and meant.
The enmity between the teams and fans runs deep and there have been a number of violent incidents and rowdy games invaded by fans pouring onto the court.
Olympiacos played without American forward James Gist, who tested positive for marijuana use and Panathinaikos’ defeat led to the firing of coach Dusko Ivanovic after only ten months. Greek coaches are routinely and rapidly fired unless they deliver quick, dramatic results.
Panathinaikos will likely also face a home ban ahead of the playoffs because fans charged onto the court, a common occurrence in games between the teams.
Panathinaikos was fined 150,000 euros last month after the fiery Giannakopoulos accused officials of showing bias towards Barcelona in a Euroleague game.
Panathinaikos has been bounced from European play while Olympiacos is playing on.