Dynamo Moscow became the Group I champion by edging Panellinios 72-77 in Athens, Greece on Tuesday. Dynamo improved to 5-0, was already qualified to the Final Eight and will now wait until the final week of the Last 16 to find out its quarterfinal opponent in Turin, Italy next month. Dynamo will face the second-plae finisher from Last 16 Group K, which will be either Pamesa Valencia, Azovmash or Hemofarm Stada, depending on the scores next week. Meanwhile, Panellinios dropped to 0-5 and formally eliminated. Dynamo's mid-phase signing at point guard, Brian Chase, paced the winners with 30 points on 7-for-12 three-point shooting. Bostjan Nachbar added 14 and 8 rebounds off the bench, Sergey Monya had 11 points, Travis Hansen got 10 while Robertas Javtokas pulled down 13 rebounds for Dynamo. Stevan Nadjfeji led Panellinios with 16 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. Brad Newley added 12 points while Mustafa Shakur had 11 for the hosts. Dynamo led 15-17 after 10 minutes but Nadjfeji and Shakur allowed Panellinios to get a 39-31 margin at halftime. Dynamo rallied in the third quarter but Newley kept Panellinios as close as 69-70 with 3 minutes to go. Nachbar, Javtokas and Chase sealed the outcome with free throws.
Panellinios opened the game with a 5-2 lead, but soon Darjus Lavrinovic connected from beyond the arc to give Dynamo a 7-8 advantage. After a three-minute span full of turnovers and misses by both teams, Ivan Radenovic scored on a layup and Chase followed with an open triple to make it 9-11. On the next possession, Nadjfeji knocked down a three-pointer to pull Panellinios within 12-14. Javtokas responded with a basket and the free throw that came with it, but saw Papamakarios match him with a triple to close the gap to 15-17 after 10 minutes. Papamakarios unleashed another triple to punish Dynamo's eighth turnover in just 11 minutes and reclaim the lead for Panellinios, 18-17, but Chase copied him from downtown to put the guests back in front. Dynamo was dominating in the battle of the boards, having grabbed twice as many as Panaellinios. However, the visitors kept missing three-pointers - they had made just 4 out of 13 so far- which allowed Panellinios to slowly build a 29-24 margin. Lavrinovic sank a pair of free throws to end the hosts 8-0 run, but Shakur's wild layup and Nadjfeji's basket gave Panellinios a 33-26 advantage. The hosts were now playing much tighter defense and, when Shakur hit a triple from the corner, Panellinios had stretched the lead to 37-27. With Dynamo having switched to a zone defense, Nadjfeji beat the buzzer with a long jumper that Nachbar answerd in kind to fix the halftime score at 39-31.
Dynamo jumped out in the second half determined to bounce back, and so it did, as Nachbar's triple tied the game at 39-39. Nadjfeji and Anthony Grundy rose to the occasion, the latter with his first 4 points, to turn the tide back to Panellinios, 46-39. The guests didn't lose composure, but rather followed Chase and Hansen on a 0-8 surge good for a 48-50 lead. Although a few possessions later, Hansen was fouled out due to a technical foul, Chase was unstoppable from downtown and kept Dynamo ahead, 51-53. Giorgos Kalaitzis and Newley fired in triples, but Chase -who else?- gunned from beyond the arc to give Dynamo a 57-58 advantage after 30 minutes. The fourth period got underway with Newley swishing a triple and Monya responding with a jumper. Nadjfeji drove to the basket and then a rejuvenated Newley loaded his pistol to score another three-pointer, putting Panellinios ahead 65-60. Surprising, the Aussie forward had made 4 of 5 triples so far, but 0 of 3 free throws. Down the stretch, Chase came up big and scored 7 points to pull Dynamo in front again, 67-70. With the score at 69-72 and 1 minute remaining, Newley failed to score on a layup. Monya split a pair of free throws before Javtokas -traditionally an average free throw shooter- was perfect at the line, extending the gap to 70-75. Panellinios had one last chance, but a turnover sealed the outcome and first place in Group I in Dynamo's favor.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Epameinondas Tsakalos, Athens