With the NBA playoffs at full speed in the conference finals, the playoffs in various European domestic leagues are in their decisive phase, too. And the nerves of players and fans are on edge right now, as you can see through our short notes on what has happened during the past few days.
The story of the day is, of course, the first game of the Greek Finals between Panathinaikos and Olympicaos. While both teams and fans met in Berlin without any kind of trouble, the old Greek rivalry was once again the theatre for stupid violence in the arena. The Olympiacos fans ruined their own team’s chances to win the opener in their arena, Peace and Friendship Stadium, by throwing a explosive projectile on the Panathinaikos bench with a little less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Watch the damage done in the video below.
The violence continued, with several fans attacking police in the arena and more projectiles thrown onto the court and at Panathinaikos players. These kind of incidents MUST have consequences as they are not only highly unfair but also putting players, referees and fans in danger. ESAKE and Euroleague, YOU NEED TO ACT AGAINST THIS KIND OF VIOLENCE: Ban these IDIOTS forever from every arena in the world. Both teams showed in Berlin that they can meet without this kind of incident, but it seems impossible in Greece. I guess there is still a long way to go as long as fans of the teams spread videos like this.
Finally, the game was decided on the court with two free throws by Mike Batiste and a missed layup by Theo Papaloukas at the buzzer. But the victory could not really be appreciated by the Panathinaikos players beyond a kick of the ball and a sprint to the tunnel to get out of the arena.
After the game, several media outlets quoted Josh Childress, who had his best game of the season for Olympiacos this season, as saying he is thinking about leaving the team at the end of the season because of these incidents. On the other hand, Greek media are citing him, saying that the fans should have waited until the end of the game before starting to throw things. Sarcasm or not, Childress and Olympiacos will probably face highly aggressive fans during the next game of the series in Panathinaikos Athens’ arena.
UPDATE: Not sure where this rumor and these quotes on si.com and espn.com came from. I never said any of that stuff! quotes TrueHoop Childress Twitter account.
Cabezas wins it for Malaga
In Spain, highly favored Unicaja Malaga already faced elimination in the first playoff round after their opening loss at home against Gran Canaria. And it was once again Carlos Cabezas who saved his team with a nearly buzzer-beating drive to seal the deal and bring the series back to Malaga for the decisive game.
Fans of the New York Knicks may look at this clip particularly fondly, as several sources indicate that the team from the Big Apple is targeting the Spanish guard for next season.
Leaving Sixers head coach in Germany
Tony di Leo, this season’s head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers was present in Paderborn to check out the playoff game between Paderborn Baskets and ALBA Berlin. While he saw the massive surprise of a Paderborn win against the Euroleague Top 16 team, di Leo was probably not present to scout a player but to support his son Max who got invited to a camp of the German U16 National team in Paderborn. In fact, di Leo served several years as a head coach in Germany and his son Max opted to play for Germany this summer. We will see if he breaks into the rotation to earn a roster spot for this summer’s European championship.