Panathinaikos of Athens has continued undefeated in Group C this Thursday night by playing on the road as if it were the home team - with early leads and smooth control - to down CSKA of Moscow 85-91. Ibrahim Kutluay went on a big shooting spree for the winners, collecting 26 points to lead four Panathinaikos scorers in double figures. Dejan Bodiroga came back from early foul trouble to add 17, Fragiskos Alvertis 15 and Damir Mulaomerovic 10. CSKA, which gave its 4,000 fans hope up until the final minute, got 20 points from Gordan Giricek, 17 from Mirsad Turkcan, 13 from Dimitri Domani and 11 from Curtis McCants. Panathinaikos raised its record to 2-0, while CSKA fell to 0-2 with the need for a victory growing greater.
Both team were nervous in the beginning of the game. For the first five minutes the score was even. But then Panathinaikos found a weak point in the home team, the center position. Nikolay Alekseev, who entered the court in the starting five, let his opponent Lazaros Papadopoulos get to the hoop consistently. In the last five minutes of the first period, the Greek center scored 8 points in a row, adding 2 assists and 3 rebounds. CSKA could stop Bodiroga, Mulaomerovic, and Johnny Rogers but not Papadopuolos. CSKA head coach Valeri Tikhonenko tried to replace Alekseev with Roy Rogers but it was useless. Panathinaikos played great defense and as a result, with 27 seconds to go in the first quarter, the visitors were winning, 10-25.
The second quarter started the same way. CSKA lost the ball and Tikhonenko let Nikita Morgunov and McCants enter the game. With these two players the home team stopped Panathinaikos during 5 minutes and 10 seconds and drew within 19-25. Panathinaikos woke up only in the last minutes of the half, but by that time the battle was joined at 33-38. The third period saw the guards of Panathinaikos finally free because of the zone defense of CSKA. Kutluay nailed 4 of 4 three-pointers and it seemed like all the questions about the outcome were taken away. Panathinaikos was leading all the 10 minutes with an average difference of 17 points. The last attempt at a CSKA comeback came in the final minutes. Giricek had begun to get hot and CSKA went from 57-71 down to 70-75 down in the span of four minutes. Only two minutes remained, but that wasn't enough time to complete the comeback. With 9 seconds to go, a travelling call on Giricek ended all of CSKA's hopes and let the Greens escape with the road win.
Thursday, October 18, 2001