Gabriel sparks Panathinaikos past Baskonia
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens overcame a sluggish start to hold off Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz, relying on solid team defense to earn an 80-76 home victory and improve to 14-8. Baskonia, which dropped to 10-12, led by 7 in the first quarter, but a flurry of triples from Kenny Gabriel soon sent the host ahead and Panathinaikos extended the gap to 18 as the visitors scored just 31 points in the middle two quarters. Although Baskonia rallied in the final stages, the mountain was too steep to climb and Panathinaikos held on. Gabriel was joined on 15 points by James Gist to lead the home team’s scoring, while Nick Calathes led the offense brilliantly with 7 points and 12 assists. Nikos Pappas scored 12 points, and Chris Singleton added 10 points and 9 rebounds. The visitors were led by 15 points apiece from Toko Shengelia and Rodrigue Beaubois, while all 12 of Matt Janning’s points came on triples and Johannes Voigtmann combined 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Baskonia got out to a fast start on offense, with Shengelia and Voigtmann both scoring twice from close range and Beaubois netting a triple for an early 8-12 lead. Shengelia’s fastbreak dunk and Voigtmann’s jam extended the lead as the home team’s offense – focusing heavily on three-point attempts – struggled for rhythm. But a pair of Gist dunks from Calathes feeds changed the atmosphere, and a quickfire pair of triples from Gabriel made it 21-22 at the end of the first. Back to back threes from Janning started the second quarter and stretched the lead to 21-28, but a pair of baskets from Lukas Lekavicius kept his team in touch and then Gabriel produced two more triples to send Panathinaikos ahead in a 10-0 run. Gabriel netted his first two-pointer and added a free throw, before Pappas made it 38-32 with a layup. Luca Vildoza, Pappas, Beaubois and Thanasis Antetokounmpo all struck from downtown before Voigtmann threw down another slam, but Calathes found Gist for an open dunk to finish the half at 46-40.
The second half started with a couple of close range scores from Gist and another Calathes to Gist combination made it a double-digit game. A triple from KC Rivers extended the lead to 55-42 and forced Baskonia into a timeout. Calathes and Rivers extended the advantage from close range as Panathinaikos continued to produce smothering defense, but a pair of tough layups from Shengelia made it closer. Pappas scored 5 points to make it 64-49 and a Singleton triple further advanced the lead before Beaubois scored the third quarter’s final basket to get within 67-53. Scoring was slow in the early stages of the final quarter, and although Patricio Garino’s three-pointer made it 71-60 Baskonia just couldn’t establish any rhythm or get good looks. Beaubois hit a triple and made free throws to make it a 10-point game and a deep three from Janning gave Baskonia renewed hope. Further triples from Vildoza and Janning made it 80-74 with 90 seconds remaining, and an alley-oop between Janning and Ilimane Diop produced a 4-point deficit inside the final minute. But Janning missed a three-pointer and Panathinaikos used the rest of the clock well to withstand the final flurry.
Thursday, February 8, 2018