Fans riot as Panathinaikos wins Game 1

Updated: May 22, 2009, 9:53 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Panathinaikos beat archrival Olympiakos 69-67 in the opening game of the Greek League finals on Thursday, with riot police called to control fans inside and outside the arena.

Former Atlanta Hawks swingman Josh Childress had 23 points for Olympiakos, the home team.

"The violence we saw today, will make me think real hard over my future in Europe," said Childress, who signed a 3-year deal worth $20 million with Olympiakos in July.

The game was interrupted for nearly 20 minutes with 1:25 to play and Panathinaikos leading 60-58.

Olympiakos fans threw a flare, plastic bottles and other items at Panathinaikos' bench during a timeout, sending the players scampering for safety. A timekeeper was slightly injured and part of the bench and the surrounding court had severe burn marks.

Enraged fans were trying to storm the court and would not listen to the pleas of Olympiakos players for calm. Riot police moved in to contain the supporters. About 200 fans clashed with police after the game and even tried to storm the locker rooms and interview room where the coaches were meeting with the media.

Olympiakos guard Theodoros Papaloukas missed a layup at the buzzer that would have tied the game.

"This did not help the team at all ... the moment you play and you have found a rhythm, you cannot stop because [of the violence] in the stands," Childress said.

The second game in the best-of-five series will be at Panathinaikos' home court on Monday.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press