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1. PANATHINAIKOS 82 OLYMPIACOS 71 - After winning game three in front of the loudest crowd in the world, on the road 69-64, Olympiacos and the player EUROJOHNBBALL called the best in the last decade, that does not play in the NBA, Vassilis Spanoulis had a shot to win his 6th Greek title on his home court, but his 0-10 FG and just one point game in a 67-65 loss was not the normal Spanoulis that put Olympiacos on his back leading them to the 2012 and 2013 Euroleague titles and also helped Olympiacos grab their first Greek title in 2012 since the 1997 season. Spanoulis is a three time Euroleague Final Four MVP and champion, but has played up and down all season in the Euroleague this year and his up and down play continued for the soon to be 32 year old Greek PG in the Greek playoffs, after hitting a vintage Spanoulis clutch DAGGAR 3 PT SHOT in a closeout Semis 3-0 sweep over Panionios, the down play returned versus Panathinaikos in the Greek A1 Finals, as in the deciding game 5 on the road, Spanoulis only scored 6 points in 27 minutes, on 1-7 FG, 0-4(3PT), 4-6 FT, 3 assists, as Olympiacos was down 53-32 at the half and without Spanoulis snapping out of his funk in these Finals, EUROJOHNBBALL said Olympiacos had NO SHOT of winning and so Panathinaikos defend their 2013 title and now 34 year old Greek PG Dimitris Diamantidis has won his 9th Greek title, while Vassilis Spanoulis has just Five Greek titles, in four of them, he was with Panathinaikos and a backcourt partner of Diamantidis, but since he joined Olympiacos, Diamantidis has won the 2011, 2013 and now 2014 Greek titles versus just one title for Spanoulis in 2012.
EUROJOHNBBALL always thought the shake and bake, off the dribble crossover game of Vassilis Spanoulis was the better fit for the NBA than Dimitris Diamantidis, who used his 6 foot 6 inch size to back guys down in Europe at the PG spot and could stick clutch jumpers, not to mention him winning the DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR in the Euroleague SIX TIMES, but unless Diamantidis played for the Spurs, most NBA coaches would not know how to use his strengths and hide the weak parts of his off the dribble isolation game. Vassilis Spanoulis wanted to play in the NBA and would have been an elite NBA PG if Jeff Van Gundy knew how to use him, as for Diamantidis, he like many other great Greek players of the last decade just wanted to compete for European titles and get big minutes, when EUROJOHNBBALL asked former NBA GM's about Diamantidis when he was a 28 year old free-agent SIX NBA GM's HAD NO CLUE WHO HE WAS, Enough said, why would he leave Europe as THE MAN in front of the loudest crowd in the world and go to a league where many had no idea how tall or how old he was, not to mention he won the Euroleague Final Four MVP, two times, to go along with his three Euroleague titles.
EUROJOHNBBALL brings up the DEBATE of which Greek PG is the better player in Europe, because now with a 3-1 lead in head to head championship series in Greece, the advantage is now leaning to the 34 year old Diamantidis, and after the back to back Euroleague titles in 2012 and 2013, to go along with the 2012 Greek title, there was thought that Vassilis Spanoulis was the NEW GREEK PG KING, but Diamantidis winning back to back Greek titles over Spanoulis at the age of 33 and 34 could give the edge to the not as flashy Diamantidis, but he gets the job done.
Dimitris Diamantidis scored 11 points today in the game five win in 27 minutes of play, on 2-5 FG, 1-3 from 3 point land, 6-6 FT, dished 7 assists and had 3 steals, filling the stat sheet like usual and Panathinaikos was led in scoring by Lithuanian SF Jonas Maciulis with 15 points, on 5-6 FG, 1-2(3PT), 4-4 FT, while Greek stretch Forward Antonis Fotsis 10 points, 6 rebounds and American PF James Gist and Croatian combo-guard Roko-Leni Ukic added 9 points apiece in the Greek title win.
Panathinaikos made 26-31 from the FT line, compared to just 12-17 for Olympiacos, who were led in scoring by American SF Matt Lojeski with 17 points, on 7-12 FG, 2-5(3PT), 1-2 FT and was followed by Greek PF Georgios Printezis with 16 points, while American Center Bryant Dunston and American SG Mardy Collins added 11 points apiece for Olympiacos. The year round grind of being the man for Olympiacos and the Greek national team for many seasons, might have taken a toll on Vassilis Spanoulis this season, but if Greece has a shot at a medal at the 2014 World Cup, it will have to be Spanoulis that leads the way, can he shake this tough season off, we will see at the end of this summer.