Panathinaikos of Greece took over sole possession of first place in Group C with another solid road win, 67-79 at Pau-Orthez of France on Thursday. Leading from tipoff to final buzzer, Panathinaikos controlled the previously undefeated French champions throughout. . Starting the contest with three turnovers in two minutes, Pau let mighty Panathinaikos set the pace with leads of 0-4 and 4-8. Imposing a serious zone defense to prevent one of Pau's main assets, penetration by its guards, the Greek champs also grabbed several offensive rebounds to take an eight-point lead, 7-15, after seven minutes. But suddenly Pau's Mike Pietrus entered the game with style: one basket on an offensive rebound, a free-throw and a tremendous dunk in traffic. As a consequence, the French team cut the Panathinaikos lead to just two, 15-17, at the end of the quarter.
The visitors continued dominating the rebounds and playing pitiless defense in the second quarter, and when their first three-pointer of the game fell from the hands of Fragiskos Alvertis, Panathinaikos was up by double digits, 15-25, and threatening to take over the game. Pau missed several free-throws and lost a couple more balls, but a couple Derrick Lewis helped keep the deficit accessible at 22-30. New Panathinaikos guard All the Pepe Sanchez, in at the point for Damir Mulaomerovic, smartly fed Alvertis and Johnny Rogers as the lead went back to 10, at 28-38, with a minute remaining. In that time, however, a late surge featuring center Rod Sellers and shooter Roger Esteller put the Pau fans on their feet and the scoreboard at 36-40. But even before the half, the crowd would be silenced again as Rogers hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 36-43 Panathinaikos lead.
Panathinaikos began the third quarter with a long-range shot by Ibrahim Kutluay the once again put the gap at 10 points, 36-46. Pau reacted with two consecutive drives and an impressive coast to coast by Esteller which seemed to change a bit the complexion of the game (42-46). But once again the inside force of the Greek club, who had shot a perfect 10 for 10 in the paint on the first half, was the key. Three Lazaros Papadopoulos baskets in a row gave his team the widest advantage of the game, 42-53, just four minutes later. From this point on, the French champion appeared to be a little overwhelmed by the Panathinaikos rotations, with Alvertis putting on an unexpected three-pointer at a shot clock buzzer as the quarter finished 49-60.
Thursday, October 25, 2001