Basket: Long ride back home for punished Panathinaikos players, 4 refuse

Panathinaikos punished their players for a poor performance in the Euroleague basketball playoffs by forcing them to return by coach to Athens from Istanbul Wednesday instead of a scheduled flight.

However American players Chris Singleton, Mike James, Kenny Gabriel and Greek Antonis Fotsis refused to board the coach and left for the airport to return at their own expense.

It remains to be seen whether the club will penalise the quartet for their actions.

The Greek club lost 79-61 to Fenerbahce on Tuesday, the Turkish team sweeping to 3-0 victory in the playoffs following two previous wins in Athens.

Panathinaikos boss Dimitris Giannakopoulos cancelled the scheduled Wednesday flight back to Athens from Istanbul and instead hired a coach for the 11-hour, 1097-kilometre (682-mile) return.

Giannakopoulos had promised his players a bonus of 250,000 euros to be divided amongst them if they had reached the Final Four of the Euroleague.

"We were not worthy of qualifying for the Final Four. In a series the best team usually wins and Fenerbahce were better. They are worthy of congratulations. We have to do our self-criticism, get serious and take the Greek championship," Giannakopoulos said.

Panathinaikos have advanced to the Final Four of the domestic championship.