Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic and leader Dejan Bodiroga, two former Real Madrid members, left their old team wondering what went wrong on its own floor following a huge basketball duel for the leadership of Group C on Thursday. Real Madrid made a huge 16-point comeback, but Panathinaikos stole home to Athens with the 70-78 victory behind 27 points from Bodiroga and 26 from Damir Mulaomerovic. For Madrid, Aleksander Djordjevic had 20 points and Alberto Herreros gathered 13. The victory was good for a 6-1 record and sole possession of first place in the group after half the regular season has been played. Real Madrid drops now to 5-2 but stands in the second place.
A mixture of tough defense and superb control of the offense draw the most thrilling picture that Real Madrid had to face this season so far at home, right at the beginning of a duel in which both head coaches pointed rhythm as the key .They were right. Both teams dominated the game when they were able to play at the pace that fit them best. Panathinaikos in the first and third quarters and the Whites in the second and the fourth, but in the end the Greeks left with victory. The x-factor of the guests was Mulaomerovic who in the first quarter alone he scored as many points as the entire team of Real, 13. The solution for the hosts came from the debutant Jean-Marc Jaumin who put the Greeks into trouble with controlling the ball and made his teammates run like they had not run in the game. A self-explanatory 21-6 run between minutes 11 and 19 put Real in the lead (34-31).
It was Obradovic who, from the bench, called to order and the effect was instant, the guests walked to the lockerrooms ahead (36-39) and after the break, Real lost concentration and, again, let their rival pull away (40-55) and forge an almost impossible lead to overcome. It was at this point when the players of Panathinaikos decided that it was time to seal the deal and began letting the time pass in every offensive play to enlarge their superiority (42-58).
But the Athenians made a fatal mistake by thinking that Real Madrid was dead too early. It was so quick that they could hardly believe their eyes when saw that the scoreboard showed tied 68s. Thanks to their lucky stars, Bodiroga and Mulaomerovic, the guests ended up beating Madrid, 70-78.
Thursday, December 6, 2001
Jorge Muñoa, Madrid