BARCELONA, Spain – Point guard Dimitris Diamantidis scored 16 points and added nine assists to lead Panathinaikos to its sixth European title on Sunday with a 78-70 win over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in the Euroleague final.
Panathinaikos used a strong third quarter to build a double-digit lead and then withstood a late run from the Israeli team in the fourth.
“I think we played well and all that matters is that we managed to win it in the end,” Diamantidis said. “This is why you practice hard and why you play basketball.”
Former Arizona State center Mike Batiste scored 18 points for Panathinaikos, and guard Drew Nicholas added 14.
It is Panathinaikos’ third title in five years and puts it level with CSKA Moscow in second place on the all-time list behind Real Madrid’s eight continental crowns. It was coach Zeljko Obradovic’s eighth European title and fourth with Panathinaikos.
Shooting guard Chuck Eidson led Maccabi with 17 points.
“I am really happy especially for this European Championship because we worked so hard for it,” said Batiste, who also won the title with the Greek powerhouse in 2007 and ’09. “In the last two we were kind of expected to win, but not this one. We worked really hard all season for this.”
Panathinaikos ousted defending champion Barcelona in the quarterfinals and Montepaschi Siena in Friday’s semifinal.
Panathinaikos used a physical inside game to hold Maccabi center Sofoklis Schortsanitis scoreless in the first half. The Israeli club was still within just three points at halftime after making six 3-pointers, but its outside shooting faltered in the second half when it made just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc as Panathinaikos pulled away.
Schortsianitis drew two quick fouls and had to go to the bench just five minutes into the game. Maccabi missed its first eight shots from two-point range, while Batiste came off the bench to score seven points as Panathinaikos closed the first quarter with an 11-2 run to go up 20-15.
“They were tough with (Schortsanitis). He got into foul trouble early and that hurt him and hurt us,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said.
Diamantidis, who was named the regular-season MVP and defender of the year for the sixth time, also won the award for MVP of the Final Four. The Greek guard joined Toni Kukoc (4) and Dejan Bodiroga (2) as the only players to win multiple Final Four MVP awards.