Panathinaikos pulls away from ALBA, 82-67
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens strung together its second consecutive home win by pulling way from ALBA Berlin 82-67 at OAKA on Friday night. Both teams enjoyed nine-point leads in the first half and were tied 43-43 after 20 minutes, but the hosts stepped up on defense after the break, allowing ALBA just 24 points the rest of the way to seal the outcome midway through the last period. Daryl Macon led the winners with a terrific double-double of 20 points and a career-high 11 assists. Leonidas Kaselakis followed his personal best of 17 points on 4-for-4 shooting from behind the arc. Howard Sant-Roos scored 16 points and Georgios Papagiannis posted 14, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks for the winners, who improved to 4-8. ALBA Berlin dropped to 5-9 despite Markus Eriksson, Oscar Da Silva and Jaleen Smith going for 18, 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Long-distance shooting fueled Panathinaikos's offense in the early going, but ALBA found Eriksson twice from behind the arc to stay within 8-6. Papagiannis showed up and followed a three-pointer from Kaselakis with a dunk to cap a 9-2 run that granted the Greens a 17-8 edge after 5 minutes. Eriksson struck again from downtown, then Johannes Thiemann joined from inside to get ALBA as close as 17-15. The hosts kept running a smooth offense, as Kaselakis hit twice from behind the arc and Okaro White provided another for a 30-22 advantage. ALBA's Da Silva managed to reduce that 30-25 at the end of the first quarter.
Tamir Blatt took the reins for ALBA when the game resumed, nailing back-to-back triples and assisting Smith on a fastbreak layup that switched the lead to ALBA, 32-36, after 14 minutes. The Greens took a timeout but the German champs were unstoppable. A 0-7 run capped by a three from Eriksson made it 34-43 soon after, forcing another Panathinaikos timeout. Two blocks and a bucket by Papagiannis reactivated Panathinaikos on both ends, sparking a 9-0 run in which Macon had 5 points that made it all square, 43-43, at halftime.
The Greens took the court much more committed on defense, preventing ALBA from scoring for the first 4 minutes after the break. Sant-Roos took over on the offensive side, helping the hosts go ahead 53-47 midway through the third period. Even though it kept struggling to score, ALBA's defense managed to slow down Panathinaikos for a while. Yovel Zoosman made it a one-possession game from the foul line but the Greens retained a 57-52 margin entering the last stanza.
Da Silva opened fire in the fourth quarter and Tim Schneider followed with a triple to tie the score again, 57-57. Panathinaikos reacted in style thanks to Macon Jr., who provided 5 points in a row to get his team back in front, 64-57. ALBA kept trying from behind the arc, but its accuracy was gone. A basket-plus-free throw by Sant Roos extended the lead to double-digits and a trey by Macon dug it deeper, 72-59, with 5 minutes remaining. Eriksson showed up to try to avoid an early sinking, but Kaselakis and Papagiannis combined on offense again to lift Panathinaikos to a 78-61 advantage from which ALBA could not recover.
Double-doubles for the win
Daryl Macon and Georgios Papagiannis built an almost perfect society to help their team grab a very important home win. The former signed off a monster double-double of 20 points and 11 assists, while the latter contributed 14 points and 10 boards. Many of Macon's assists ended up in the hands of Papagiannis, who thanked his teammate with several alley-oop dunks. This was the first time Macon, a EuroLeague newcomer, registered a double-double while for Papagiannis it was his fourth of the season. He went for 12 points and 10 rebounds against Anadolu Efes Istanbul in Round 6, 14 and 17 against UNICS Kazan in Round 9, and 18 and 13 against Zenit St. Petersbourg in Round 12.
Greens turned offense into defense after half
The Greek champs displayed a terrific offensive performance at the beginning of the game. They nailed 6 three-pointers in the first 10 minutes that helped them grab a 30-25 advantage at the end of the first quarter and reach halftime with the game tied at 43-43. Panathinaikos head coach Dimitris Priftis was not so happy, though, as he requested much more energy on defense from his team at the break. The players responded in style, allowing just 19 points in the next 18 minutes, good enough to escape to 80-62 late in the last quarter and put the game on ice.
ALBA resisted without Sikma
ALBA Berlin couldn't count on Luke Sikma for this game, which meant losing his 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists on average. The German champs were able to make up for his absence quite well for most of the game, taking a 34-43 margin midway through the second quarter and getting the game all square early in the fourth, 57-57, on a triple by Tim Schneider. Markus Eriksson, who scored 12 of his 18 total points in the first half, Oscar Da Silva (13), Louis Olinde and Johannes Thiemann (12 rebounds combined) and Tamir Blatt (7 assists) tried to step up for ALBA, but it was finally in vain.
Friday, December 10, 2021