Alba Berlin beat Panellinios BC on Thursday night 68-65 at the O2 World in new head coach Muli Katzurin’s debut to cap Week 2 of the Eurocup Last 16. Berlin regained its winning ways and improved its record to 1-1 with the win, trailing only Cajasol Sevilla in Group L and tied with Benetton, who beat Berlin last week. Panellinios remains winless and last in the Group, with an uphill battle now to make it to the quarterfinals. Julius Jenkins paced the winners with 20 points, while Derrick Allen added 13 and Tadja Dragevic scored 9, as Berlin capitalized on an aggressive defensive style that manufactured 11 steals and a 14-1 run in the fourth quarter. Panellinios displayed good offensive balance led by a 24-point effort by Steven Smith, but neither his performance nor the 11 points by Manolis Papamakarios and 8 rebounds from Torin Francis were enough for the visitors. Berlin will travel next week to play group leader Cajasol Sevilla in Spain, while Panellinios will host Benetton Bwin in Athens in a must-win game to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The visiting side was able to manufacture some close looks and kept Berlin away from the rim in the early stages as Smith got off to an aggressive start, netting 7 of his team’s first 9 points, and both teams stood even at 9-9 midway the quarter. The hosts started attacking the offensive glass and forcing steals to offset the visitors’ high percentage on two-point field goals, but Smith kept active at both ends of the floor and finished the opening quarter with 11 points. And, more importantly, the lead for his team: 15-19. Jenkins jump-started Berlin after the break with three consecutive layups and, just like that, the hosts had inflicted an 8-2 run to grab the lead, 23-21. With both squads unable to stretch the floor with perimeter shooting, Panellinios went inside to Djuro Ostojic and took better care of the basketball on offense. As the home team stayed intent on shooting beyond the arc but misfiring, Smith finally swished the game’s second triple and Joseph Krabbenhoft and Evangelos Sklavos added free throws in a 0-10 run to set the biggest lead to that point: 25-33. Jenkins ended the dry spell for the hosts by converting a jumpshot and Dragicevic finally hit one from beyond the arc to reach halftime at a manageable 31-37 deficit.
Papamakarios got back into the thick of things right after the break with a triple for Panellinios, but Marko Marinovic answered from long range as well to keep the difference within single digits. Immanuel McElroy traded a layup with a Smith dunk and Jenkins took a big bite with another three. Midway through the third period, the margin was still the same at 41-50. Intent on attacking the paint, Berlin mustered consecutive layups by way of Allen and finished the quarter strong, pushing it to 50-56. The push translated to shove to start the fourth, as Dragicevic and Allen engineered a 14-1 run sparked by consecutive triples by Hollis Price and Marinovic that turned the tables for the hosts, who were suddenly on top 64-57. With under two minutes to go and the feeling of having the floor pulled from under their feet, the visitors fought to get back in it, and Smith went to work, tallying 5 points in crunch time. With the forward’s scoring and some tight defense when it mattered, Panellinios pulled as close as 66-63 in the last minute. Jenkins split a pair of free throws before Smith’s final layup made it 67-65, but with few ticks left, McElroy was able to ice Berlin’s home victory from the line.
Thursday, January 27, 2011