One near-perfect quarter propelled defending Euroleague champions Panathinaikos to a sixth consecutive Group C victory as it derailed host Fenerbahce Ulker 64-83 in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. Panathinaikos is the only remaining undefeated team in the Euroleague at 6-0, and therefore owns first place in Group C. Fenerbahce, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and its record fall to 3-3. The third quarter was game-breaker as the Panathinaikos defense stopped Fenerbahce cold, almost before the hosts could shoot. What had been a 39-43 game at halftime changed irrevocably as the Greens converted steal after steal and rebound after rebound into a 22-5 score over 10 minutes then rode out the final quarter to victory. Sarunas Jasikevicius paced the winners with 19 points in 18 minutes, while Mike Batiste added 16 and 7 rebounds. Andrija Zizic picked up 14 more points and Winston Kennedy 13 for the Greens, who were missing all-Euroleague guard Dimitrios Diamantidis due to sickness. For Fenerbahce, Semih Erden picked up 15 points in the pain, while James White added 14 and Willie Solomon 11. Mirsad Turkcan collected 9 rebounds, moving him closer to becoming the first player of the decade with 1,000. He now has 978.
Becirovic scored in penetration right at the start of the game while Winston soon gave Panathinaikos a 2-4 lead. Fenerbahce ran its offense through its big men early in the game, as Gasper Vidmar scored inside, but back-to-back baskets by Batiste kept the reigning Euroleague champion ahead, 6-9. Solomon stepped up with his first points while Omer Onan fed White for an easy basket, good for a 10-9 Fenerbahce edge. Winston and an unstoppable Batiste kept pacing Panathinaikos but Solomon, free throws by White and a fast break layup by Onan allowed the hosts to get a 16-13 lead after 7 minutes. The Greens struggled to find good shots now, while a put-back layup by Vidmar boosted Fenerbahce's lead to 18-14. Winston stepped up with free throws and even when Erden scored in the other end, Jasikevicius was fouled while taking a three-point shot and did not miss from the line to get Panathinaikos within 20-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Jasikevicius gave a no-look assist to Andrija Zizic right at the start of the second quarter, but Fenerbahce stayed aggressive, finding good options in offense. Erden hit 3-for-4 free throws while Ibrahim Kutluay sank a seven-meter three-pointer from the top of the key, good for a 26-21 Fenerbahce lead early in the second quarter. Zizic stepped up with a power layup, igniting a 0-6 run in which Jasikevicius followed a running jumper with a fast break layup that put Panathinaikos back ahead, 26-27. Erden followed an uncontested dunk with another basket while free throws by Solomonm gave Fenerbahce its biggest lead that far, 32-27. Nikos Hatzivrettas and an outstanding Jasikevicius tried to change things for the Greens, but Rasim Basak collected two steals that allowed Emir Preldzic to keep Fener ahead, 36-31. It didn't last long, however, as Winston scored off a steal, igniting a 0-10 Panathinaikos run in which Zizic had 6 points to put the Greens back ahead, 36-41. Damir Kaan hit one from downtown but a final basket by Jasikevicius gave the Greens a 39-43 edge at halftime
Panathinaikos put the finishing touches on its turnaround and the game itself soon after halftime. The Green's defense blocked Fenerbahce's every move, while Spanoulis, Batiste and Zizic started the half with 6 unanswered points to make it 39-49, the first double-digit lead of the game. Winston added a dunk in transition and Batiste completed the 0-10 start to the third quarter at 39-53. Fenerbahce stopped turning the ball over long enough for White to score on of his team's two baskets for the entire quarter. Zizic and Batiste kept on dominating the game inside as the margin grew bigger minute by minute. Batiste's layup in the quarter's last minute meant a 24-point for the Greens before Gasper Vidmar's layup-plus-free throw for Fenerbahce left a 44-65 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
Fenerbahce shook itself awake a little bit after the shocking third period and made a 6-0 start to the last quarter by looking to Erden inside. It didn't take long for Panathinaikos to refresh its memory of the thunderous third quarter, however. This time, an 0-8 run consisting of Dejan Tomasevic's layup and 2 three-points blasts by Jasikevicius extended the lead to 24 points once again, 53-77, with 5 minutes to go. Jasikevicius made sure that Panathinaikos controlled the remaining minutes and cruised to the finish of its sixth victory without a loss this season.
Thursday, November 29, 2007