Panathinaikos bounced back from its first loss in Group C and remained atop the Group C standings with an 8-1 record after downing Brose Baskets 58-72 in Bamberg, Germany, on Wednesday night. Panathinaikos, backed by hundreds of fans at Jako Arena, got another top-notch performance from star guard Sarunas Jasikevicius to remain one game ahead of its closest competitors. Meanwhile, Brose Baskets dropped to 1-8 and is all but mathematically out of the Top 16 race. Jasikevicius paced the winners with 21 points on 11-for-11 free-throw shooting and 5 assists off the Panathinaikos bench. Vassilis Spanoulis and Kennedy Winston added 8 each and five other players had at least 5 points. Robert Garrett had 17 points for Brose Baskets, while Ademola Okulaja added 10 points and 7 rebounds. Panathinaikos limited its opponents to just 8 points in the opening quarter to take an 8-17 lead after 10 minutes. The Greens boosted their margin to 28-40 at halftime and kept a solid margin all the way until the final buzzer.
Predrag Suput picked up two quick fouls before Demond Greene opened the scoring with the first basket of the game just before the shot-clock expired. Nikos Hatzivrettas made 2 foul shots to open a 2-4 Panathinaikos gap. And a Kostas Tsartsaris basket pushed the lead to 4-9. But Garrett hit a jumper and a layup to cut the deficit to 8-9. Tsartsaris converted a three-point play and Spanoulis knocked down a three for an 8-15 lead that led to a Dirk Bauermann timeout. Garrett missed an open triple from the wing and Mike Batiste answered with a layup at the other end for a 8-17 advantage, which Garrett could not cut with a three-point attempt at the buzzer from the other corner.
A Spanoulis three-ball opened the second quarter and Jasikevicius made 2 free throws after a technical foul on Bauermann to put the Greens up 14. Garrett ended the 0-13 Panathinaikos surge with a triple and after a Batiste layup, Bamberg scored on three straight possessions – the final being Greene's three from right corner to trim the deficit to 18-24. But Jasikevicius put an end to any Bamberg momentum, converting a three-point play and then nailing a triple to push the advantage back up to 18-30 and forcing another Bauermann timeout. Okulaja and Chris Ensminger combined for 3 free throws, but a jumper by Demos Dikoudis and an inside layup by Diamantidis kept the Greek champs far ahead. Steffen Hamann and Garrett both free throws to trim the deficit to 28-36 with 1:13 to play in the half. But Jasikevicius answered with 2 free throws of his own and Batiste scored on a jumper in the lane after a Bamberg turnover to give Panathinaikos a 28-40 lead at the break.
After Bamberg made just 2-of-11 three-pointers in the first half, the hosts were well-served when Okulaja knocked down a three to start the second half. Winston came down and drained a triple of his own for a 31-43 lead and Bamberg began getting itself in foul trouble as Ensminger, Hamann, Greene and Okulaja all had 3 fouls with seven minutes to play in the third period. A basket by Suput trimmed the deficit 33-43, but Ensminger and Hamann both collected their fourth fouls leading to 2 foul shots by Jasikevicius. After an unsportmanlike foul by Batiste, Ensminger made a free throw and Garrett converted a driving layup. Another unsportsmanlike foul by Dikoudis resulted in a foul shot by Ensminger for a 38-45 score. Diamintidis came up with 2 steals and then Dikoudis scored an inside basket. Winston's next shot restored a double-digit lead. After a Fenn jumper, Jasikevicius and Andrija Zizic hit 2 free throws each before Garrett hit a three at the buzzer to trim the deficit to 43-53.
Okulaja's inside basket opened the final period for Bamberg, but he failed to convert the three-point play and then Garrett missed a three-pointer, which could have trimmed the gap to 5 points. Instead Winston nailed a triple from the wing and then Zizic's lay-up on the break had the lead back up to 45-58. Panathinaikos head coach Zejlko Obradovic called a timeout after Okulaja's dunk and Spanoulis made 2 foul shots, but Garrett answered with a triple to trim the deficit to 50-60 with 4:30 to play. Sani Becirovic knocked down a three-ball and then another basket for a 50-65 lead. Okulaja kept Bamberg fans' hopes up with a tap-in and Hamann scored a lay-up for a 54-65 deficit. But Jasikevicius hit a jumper and a three-pointer for a 56-70 lead and put to bed all doubts. Jasikevicius ended the game with 2 foul shots with no time left on the clock.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007