Zvezda gets big road win in Athens
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade improved to 3-1 and kept tying for first place in Group M by downing Panionios Athens 66-78 in the Greek capital on Wednesday. Zvezda joins Nizhny Novgorod in a two-way tie atop the standings. Panionios dropped to 0-4 and is mathematically out of the elimination rounds. Rasko Katic paced the winners with 19 points. DeMarcus Nelson added 14, Marko Simonovic had 13 while Charles Jenkins got 10 for Zvezda. Erick McCollum and Marc Antonio Carter led Panionios with 15 points apiece. Zvezda had a strong start, as Nelson and Jaka Blazic allowed the guests to get a 10-16 margin. McCollum and an outstanding Carter helped Panionios to get the lead, 21-19, after 10 minutes. Carter got help from Landon Milbourne kept Panionios ahead, 30-28, but Katic and Ivan Radenovic made Zvezda tie the game, 40-40, at halftime. A 9-0 run that McCollum capped with a layup gave Panionios a 49-43 edge right after the break. Katic and Jenkins fueled a 0-10 run that gave Zvezda the lead for good, 49-53. Zvezda improved its defense, boosted its margin to 57-68 with under 4 minutes left and never looked back.
Radenovic and Branko Lazic gave Zvezda an early 0-4 lead. Ioannis Athanasoulas made free throws but a layup by Nelson and a three-pointer by Marko Simonovic boosted the guests' lead to 4-9. McCollum and Athanasoulas struck from downtown but Nelson and Blazic kept Zvezda ahead, 10-16. McCollum kept pacing Panionios with a three-point play which Blazic matched at the other end. McCollum scored again and Carter followed a triple with a layup-plus-foul to give Panionios its first lead, 21-19, after 10 minutes. Simonovic and Milbourne exchanged layups early in the second quarter and a three-pointer by Tadija Dragicevic put Zvezda back ahead, 23-24. Carter stayed unstoppable and got help from Milbourne to give Panionios a 30-28 lead. Katic shined with a put-back basket that Alex Kyritsis bettered with a triple. Lazic and McCollum traded baskets and Radenovic kept Zvezda within 35-34. Charles Jenkins scored down low and free throws by Radenovic and Katic tied the game, 40-40, at halftime.
Nelson struck from downtown immediately after the break but Kevin Langford and Marios Batis fueled a 9-0 Panionios run with McCollum capped with a layup for a 49-43 lead. Zvezda went scoreless for more than 4 minutes until Jenkins and Katic made free throws. Nelson downed a jumper and a layup by Jenkins put the guests back ahead, 49-50. Katic capped a 0-10 run that gave the guests a 49-53 margin. A three-point play by Gaios Skordilis and a free throw by Jenkins fixed the score at 52-54 after 30 minutes. Katic kept pacing Zvezda with back-to-back baskets early in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer by Simonovic gave the guests a 55-61 lead. Skordilis scored again but a triple by Jenkins made it a seven-point game, 57-64, with 7 minutes left. Simonovic stepped up with a layup and free throws by Radenovic sealed the outcome, 57-68, with under 4 minutes remaining. Langford and Milbourne tried to change things but it was already too little, too late for the hosts, as Zvezda had cruised to a critical road win.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014