Panathinaikos of Athens toyed with disaster for almost 30 minutes on Thursday before turning on the jets and the talent to grab a 91-82 win against visiting Buducnost of Podgorica. Down 55-50 with three minutes left in the third quarter, Panathinaikos mounted a 23-8 run that bridged the final quarters and put the game out of Buducnost's reach. Panathinaikos is now one of only two undefeated teams among 32 in the competition. The Greens are 4-0 and the sole leaders of Group C. The other undefeated team is defending champion Kinder Bologna, in Group B. The surprise on Thursday in Athens, however, was that winless Buducnost had led for most of the first three quarters. Alas, the Yugoslav champions have now fallen to 4-0.
Taking a look at their records, the difference between these two teams should be huge, but Buducnost found its consolation by playing their best game in the current edition of the Euroleague. The team of Podgorica had a susprise to give Panathinaikos, and that was superb long-range shooting (4 three-pointers in the first period) with Aleksandar Smiljanic leading the stats, and good rebounding thanks to the work of Davor Peicinovic, Nikola Jestratijevic and Dejan Milojevic. The consequences of this good work by Buducnost were constant leads from 4 to 8 points. In the second half, after an unsportsmanlike foul over Smiljanic, the Montenegrian team forged an 8-point lead (39-47) and had the possession of the ball to try to take it further, but a charge foul impeded Buducnost to do so. Then, an 8-0 run led by five points from Damir Mulaomerovic allowed Panathinaikos to catch Buducnost and tied the score at 47. Right after that, another reaction by Podgorica put them on the lead (47-53), but from that point, Pejcinovic was fouled out and Jestratijevic commited his fourth foul.
A three by Johnny Rogers put Panathinaikos in the lead for the first time in a long time (57-56) but Buducnost didn't give up the fight until the third quarter ended 63-61 after a penetration by Bodiroga. The last period belonged to Panathinaikos. A killing 10-0 run gave a 12-point lead to the Greeks (73-61) and despite Buducnost's huge effort to get back into the game, 83-80 with 1:05 to go after a triple by Milojevic, Panathinaikos was going to win the game.
Thursday, November 1, 2001