Παρασκευή, 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

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This season began for Panathinaikos basketball team with few fresh faces, with a lot of ambitions and good appearances at the start, which promised for a better future. However, this future could no one guess. Their normally hard defense was broken easily, mainly due to bad defensive outside game, a lot of players had many ups and downs, the turnovers increased from game to game and the players’ lost confidence made them shooting with very bad percentages. So, Panathinaikos finished third in his Euroleague group, “celebrating” for the most favorable draw for the Top-16 round, and dropped down to second place, behind Olympiakos, in the Greek Championship, praying for a loss of his rival, that never came…

In the verge of a complete failure, little before the team’s failing in almost all competitions, Panathinaikos came back dynamically. Was it a wonder? Wonders happen sometimes! The team’s tight defense made the opponent’s scoring a hard job, the turnovers were limited to the minimum, one after the other the players recovered their form and the basket became bigger and bigger. So, Panathinaikos reached the Greek Cup Final eliminating the strong team of Marousi and broke the 23 games in a row unbeaten home record of Malaga, establishing him as the leader and the absolute favorite for the first place in the group!

And here could someone have some questions… Will Panathinaikos extend his trophies’ collection with this year’s Greek Cup? Will he ensure the first place, and together the playoff advantage, in Euroleague and Greece? Will he continue his very good appearances in 2009? After the next 15 days, all this questions will have been answered! Hard way to go… against Olympiakos (Greek Cup Final), Roma (Away), again Olympiakos (Away) and finally Partizan (Away)…

The Greek Cup Final – that will take place on Sunday in Hellenic Sports Center, unfortunately with small attendance – constitutes perhaps the most important game of the season. Not only because it will decide a title, but because it will form the psychology and confidence of the two teams for the upcoming matches. If the Greens grab the title, they are more likely to win at least one of the two away games in Euroleague and they will dispute their rival’s lead in the Greek Championship. But what do they need to grab this title?

The past results mean nothing, so the Greens will have to impose their tempo from the start of the game. If they wait until the third quarter (their favorite quarter) to control the game, they will perhaps get out of control. Panathinaikos’ coach Z. Obradovic has to prepare, as he always used to, some tricks to overtake his opponent. Zone defense, foul-trouble the big men of Olympiakos, stop the lately “on fire” G. Bourousis, get advantage of the poisonous shots and passes of Saras and find as always a new hero-surprise! After Papanikolaou, Winston and lately Nicholas, who will be the next? Chatzivrettas, Perperoglou or someone else?

Sunday is not far…
by SoF 3D

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