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Panathinaikos beats Maccabi for Euroleague title

Posted May 8 2011 2:19PM

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Panathinaikos won the Euroleague basketball final Sunday, beating Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 78-70 behind 16 points and nine assists from Dimitris Diamantidis.

This was the sixth European title and third in five years for the Greek club. Italy's Montepaschi Siena beat Real Madrid 80-62 for third place.

Former Arizona State center Mike Batiste, who also won the title with Panathinaikos in 2007 and '09, scored 18 points and Drew Nicholas added 14. Maccabi's Chuck Eidson had 17.

The Israelis were within three points at halftime, but their outside shooting faltered in the second half when it made just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Panathinaikos used a strong third quarter to build a double-digit lead, then withstood a late run from Maccabi.

"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.''

Lior Eliyahu pulled Maccabi within five points with 1:20 to play before Diamantidis found Batiste for a layup. The Greeks then sealed the outcome from the foul line as thousands of green-clad Panathinaikos fans began to celebrate.

Diamantidis, the regular-season MVP, was also the MVP of the Final Four. The only others to win Final Four MVP awards more than once are Toni Kukoc (four) and Dejan Bodiroga (two). Diamantidis won the championship for the third time with the Greens.

"Every trophy you win is great,'' he said.

Panathinaikos joins CSKA Moscow at six titles, two behind leader Real Madrid. Coach Zeljko Obradovic won his eighth European crown and fourth with Panathinaikos.

The tip-off was moved up several hours to accommodate fans in Israel, which marked its Memorial Day on Sunday. The country largely comes to a standstill after sundown on the day it honors its fallen soldiers. Maccabi officials had said the team would not play while Israel paid respects.

More than 5,000 Maccabi fans traveled with the team to Barcelona, making up a sea of yellow shirts and flags across half the stands.

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