Monaco beats Panathinaikos in EuroLeague debut
AS Monaco enjoyed a sweet Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debut by beating visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 75-63 in the season-opening game at Salle Gaston Medecin on Thursday evening. The hosts dominated from the very beginning, building a 22-15 advantage in the first quarter and never looking back. The margin increased little by little in the second half to a maximum of 22 points midway through the last quarter, which allowed Monaco to enjoy an early celebration with its fans despite a late 0-10 late run by the Greens. Danilo Andjusic had a career-high 17 points in just 14 minutes to lead five Monaco scorers in double digits. Mike James scored 11 points and Paris Lee, Donatas Motiejunas and Donta Hall had 10 apiece. Ioannis Papapetrou set the tone for Panathinaikos with 16 points and 6 rebounds, followed by Daryl Macon Jr. with 13 points in the losing effort.
James ignited the hosts in the early going with a dunk and a deep three-pointer for a 5-0 lead. Papapetrou took over for Panathinaikos, but Monaco found solutions from inside with Motiejunas for a 10-7 lead midway through the first quarter. James launched the hosts’ escape attempt, 15-7, with a powerful steal and slam. The visitors’ answer came soon from the hands of Papapetrou, Macon and Okaro White, who made it 15-14. However, 5 straight points by Andjusic and free throws by Alpha Diallo closed the first quarter with the home team up 22-15. Will Thomas built the first double-digit with a three right after the game resumed. Andjusic made it even better for the home side, 30-17, with a couple of free throws and a corner three. The Greens tried to fire back taking advantage of Papapetrou and Georgios Papagiannis’s experience, but no one else joined and Monaco needed not much to keep a safe margin. The offensive game of both teams slowed down from then on, as nobody managed to score a single field goal in the final 3 minutes of the half and Monaco went into the locker room ahead 38-28.
The teams traded baskets after the break. Ibrahima Faye, Lee and James combined to again punish Panathinaikos and amass a 48-33 advantage after 25 minutes. The visitors struggled on offense, unable to break the trend. Hall took advantage to score 6 points in a row and turn the red lights on the visitors’ control panel, 54-37, right before Jehyve Floyd showed up to help his team keep breathing at 56-44 entering the last quarter. Monaco suffocated Panathinaikos's attempt to come back with Leo Westermann and Andjusic running the show. Thomas restored a 17-point margin, 64-47, with a reverse jumper. The visitors tried to stop it with a timeout, but little changed. Another three-point dagger by James, two inside buckets by Motiejunas and a pair of free throws by Lee made it 73-51 with 5 minutes remaining, making clear that nothing could prevent the hosts from claiming their first EuroLeague win ever.
What a convincing debut!
The reigning 7DAYS EuroCup champion enjoyed a magical night on their EuroLeague premiere. They showed no mercy against mighty Panathinaikos and dominated the game from end to end. Mike James got the hosts going with a dunk and a three-pointer as Monaco never trailed for the 40 minutes.
Monaco’s backcourt rules
The hosts found a key offensive contribution from its backcourt, as Mike James, Leo Westermann, Paris Lee and Danilo Andjusic combined for 46 out of Monaco’s 75 points. On the other side, Nemanja Nedovic finished scoreless while playing just 12 minutes.
No threes, no party
Panathinaikos's offensive problems were obvious, as the Greens barely reached 60 points. It was even more significant when it came to outside shooting. They made 4 out of 20 attempts (20%). Monaco made 9 of 21 (42.8%).
AS Monaco shared the ball pretty well, logging in 18 assists. Mike James, Paris Lee and Leo Westermann combined for 13. The Greens amassed just 7 as a team.
In Round 2 next week, AS Monaco will hit the road to face UNICS in Kazan on Thursday, October 7. Panathinaikos will try to score its first win against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul at home the same day.
Thursday, September 30, 2021