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Olympiakos punished for quitting basketball game over ref gripe

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By Agence France-Presse

Greek basketball giants Olympiakos were docked six points by a sports judge on Saturday and fined 7,000 euros ($7,900) after abandoning a Greek Cup semi-final against Panathinaikos at half-time.

The Piraeus team left the Athens Olympic Stadium midway through Wednesday’s contest while trailing 40-25 after complaining about being the victims of bad refereeing.

Panathinaikos advanced to Sunday’s final against PAOK Thessaloniki as a result, while Olympiakos — 15-1 in the Greek league this season — dropped from second place to sixth following the points deduction.

“We cannot play a referee role between conflicting interests and spoilt owners who do damage to a sport which has made the country proud,” said Greek sports minister Giorgos Vasiliadis.

Even NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose brother Thanasis plays for Panathinaikos, commented on Olympiakos’ protest in a Twitter post.

“Basketball should unite us and not divide us,” he wrote.

Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, who has previously had spells in charge of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, said the walkout was something he had never experienced in his career.

“I really respect Olympiakos, their players and coaching staff. But 42 years as a coach I have never seen anything like that before. We are all part of basketball. Everyone must respect the game,” said Pitino.