Basketball: Long ride back home for punished Panathinaikos players

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

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.