PIRAEUS – Olympiacos got sweet revenge in Greece’s basketball league, returning to the title with a 93-74 pounding of arch-rival Panathinaikos in a 3-0 sweep.
The two had played for the crown every year for the last 13 years but Panathinaikos had won 12 of them, broken only by an Olympiacos win in 2012.
Playing before a delirious home crowd in Peace and Friendship Stadium, the Reds just had too much firepower for the Greens, who had been depleted by injuries and a suspension.
Panathinaikos had big forward Esteban Batista back but the writing was on the wall early in this rout with the winners building up a 51-39 halftime lead behind captain and sharpshooting guard Vassilis Spanoulis, who wound up with 23 for the night and held the trophy aloft at the end after seeing Panathinaikos do it so many times before.
Panathinaikos, hampered by 17 sloppy turnovers, tried to make a game of it and came within five at 51-46 before the Reds stepped on the gas and pulled away.
After the end of the game hundreds of Olympiacos fans stormed the court and celebrated with the players and officials of the club, in what was a peaceful ending after so many riot-marred and battle-scarred finals between the two teams whose fans hate each other with a passion.
In the fight for third, PAOK leads its fellow Thessaloniki team Aris, 2-1, after winning 62-51. The next game is June 16 on Aris’ home court.