Maroussi BC, which beat defending champ Panathinaikos 80-78
Maroussi pulled off another big upset in Group E, knocking off city rival and defending champion Panathinaikos 80-78 in a thriller at OAKA, the Euroleague home court for both teams. The win ties Maroussi with Regal Barcelona for second place in Group E at 1-1, trailing Partizan, which is 2-0. Panathinaikos falls to 0-2 and is in real danger of missing the Quarterfinal Playoffs. Next week the Greens travel to Barcelona for a major showdown, while Maroussi hosts Partizan. Panathinaikos started strong thanks to a dominant Nikola Pekovic, who scored 13 first-quarter points – including the 1,000th of his Euroleague career on a two-handed slam – and had 19 in the first half. Nevertheless, Maroussi stayed close. The Greens took a 43-53 lead midway through the third quarter only to see Maroussi bounce back with 7 straight points. Pat Calathes, whose younger brother Nick plays for Panathinaikos, and Billy Keys combined for 17 fourth-quarter points, hitting big shot after big shot to put Maroussi ahead and then ncrease the elad to as much as 7. Panathinaikos roared back and had the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to shoot for a tie or win, but Drew Nicholas lost the ball and Maroussi celebrated a monumental win. Keys led Maroussi with 17 points on 5 for 7 three-point shooting and 5 assists. Jared Homan posted 13 points and 7 rebounds, Pat Calathes finished with 11 points and Jamon Lucas and Michalis Pelekanos added 10 points apiece. Pekovic finished with 19 for Panathinaikos, Mike Batiste scored 15, Nicholas and Dimitris Diamantidis had 11 each and Antonis Fotsis 10 in defeat.
The big men made their presence felt early as Pekovic corrected his own miss and Homan scored for Maroussi for the game’s first points. Pekovic remained the Greens’ top weapon with their first 7 points, while Pelekanos and Keys kept Maroussi going. Homan gave the “hosts” their first lead, 8-7. Pekovic scored twice more and reached 11 points already as Panathinaikos went up 11-15. Kostas Kaimakoglou and Homan tied the game at 15-15. Vassilis Spanoulis drove the lane and Nicholas sank a jumper in transition as Panathinaikos tried to pull away. However Homan scored and drew Marcus Haislip’s second foul as Maroussi stayed close. Panathinaikos went with its power lineup of Batiste and Pekovic together and that resulted in a Batiste dish to Pekovic for a two-handed jam, his 13th points of the quarter and the 1,000th of his Euroleague career. Pelekanos was undeterred and sank a three to tie the score. Kaimakoglou nearly hit a length-of-the-court buzzer-beater, but it bounced off the rim leaving the score 21-21 after 10 minutes.
More Pekovic points opened the second quarter, but a strong Stevan Nadjfeji slam and a smooth move by Dimitris Mavroeidis put Maroussi on top. Pekovic tied the score, but Maroussi continued to attack the Panathinaikos star on defense and managed to stick him with a second foul. Pat Calathes drained a three for Maroussi, but Pekovic scored again and Fotsis drilled a three to put the Greens ahead. The lead traded sides some more as Pelekanos hit from downtown and Fotsis scored on the offensive glass. Spanoulis made his way to the hoop for a 31-34 lead before a television timeout. Marios Batis’s steal and score was cancelled by a monster Spanoulis-to-Batiste alley-oop slam. The duo teamed up again as Batiste stole the ball from Lucas and passed to Spanoulis to make it 33-38. Lucas atoned with a pair of baskets before Nicholas gave Panathinaikos a 37-40 lead at halftime.
Batiste and Homan traded baskets to start the second half. Dimitris Diamantidis beat the 24-second buzzer for three from the top of the key, but Maroussi plugged away as Kaimakoglou scored on the offensive glass. Spanoulis handed off to a cutting Fotsis for a slam, but Lucas soared t grab his own miss and put it in as Maroussi battled on. Batiste scored inside and Stratos Perperoglou slapped the ball away from Homan and took it in for a layup to give the Greens’ their first double-digit lead, 43-53, which caused Maroussi to call a timeout. Billy Keys drained a long three and Lucas followed with a steal and slam and now Panathinaikos used a timeout. Pelekanos went baseline for a jam as Maroussi looked to come all the way back. Kaimakoglou lost the ball and Nicholas scored an uncontested layup at the other end, but Keys made a step-back three to bring Maroussi within 53-55. A goal-tending call on Fotsis resulted in a basket for Homan and a 55-55 tie. A pair of Diamantidis free throws gave the Greens a 2-point lead at the end of the quarter.
Batiste took charge early in the fourth quarter and scored on three trips down the floor, but Pat Calathes buried a pair of triples to bring Maroussi within 61-62. Keys then spotted a wide-open Batis for a three to get the Maroussi fans singing as their team took the lead for the first time in the second half. Panathinaikos used a timeout and the pressure bean to build. Batiste scored over Pat Calathes, drew a foul and made the free throw to put the Greens up 1. Pat Calathes then attacked the Panathinaikos defense for a layup and Keys struck from downtown once more as lead rose to 69-65. Diamantidis only made 1 of 2 free throws and Keys connected from behind the arc again for a 6-point advantage. Diamantidis answered him with a clutch three with three-and-half minutes remaining. The Keys show continued with another spot-on triple. Nicholas answered the same way only for Lucas to drive and make it 77-72 with 2:18 to play. Despite a Panathinaikos timeout, Nicholas missed a three and Mavroeidis capped a quick transition attack with a slam at the two-minute mark. Fotsis tried to rescue the Greens with a big three and then Nicholas added a layup with 1:19 left. Batiste went to the line with a chance to tie the score with 44.8 seconds remaining, but missed the first and only brought his team within 1. Pat Calathes missed from downtown, but got his own rebound, leaving Maroussi to run out the clock. Panathinaikos was forced to foul, but not yet in the bonus, needed to foul twice before sending Kaimakoglou to the line with 20.3 seconds left. The Maroussi forward sank only one leaving Panathinaikos a chance to tie or win it, but Nicholas was unable to get off a shot and Maroussi celebrated a big win.
Thursday, February 4, 2010