Aleks Maric helps Panathinaikos to Euroleague Title

Aleks Maric helps Panathinaikos to Euroleague Title

Australian Golden Star Boomers centre Aleks Maric has clinched the Euroleague Championship with his side Panathinaikos on Sunday, beating Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in the Euroleague Final 78-70.

Panathinaikos showed they are the best basketball team in Europe after defeating the Israelis in a game in which they always held the advantage.

Point guard Dimitris Diamantidis scored 16 points and added nine assists to lead Panathinaikos to its sixth European title. Maric played just over nine minutes to reel in four boards to go with two points. 

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.

The Greeks took a 22-15 lead in the first quarter and although they had to withstand a fightback from their rivals in the second period, led by point guard Dimitris Diamantridis, who was the Most Valuable Player of the final, they extended their lead in the third period and were again able to control Maccabi's attempts to get back into the game in the final 10 minutes.

Thousands of Greeks fans among the 16,000 supporters in the Palau San Jordi helped provide a magnificent atmosphere and the side which had knocked reigning champions Barcelona out in the quarterfinals showed itself to be the worthy winners.

Panathinaikos had reached the final after beating Montepaschi Sienna in their semifinal on Friday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv had humiliated Real Madrid by 82-63 to seal the final spot.

After being named in the Euroleague’s All-star Five last season, Maric’s numbers fell in reduced minutes this season, after he signed with massive club Panathanaikos, who were touted as title favourites early. They certainly delivered - the trade off for Maric being an elusive Euroleague title, an amazing feat.