Greens finish strong to top ALBA
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens bounced back from a painful double-overtime loss against Real Madrid 48 hours before by defeating visiting ALBA Berlin 92-69 at OAKA on Thursday night. The Greens, who improved to 5-9, built a 25-18 lead after 10 minutes and never trailed after that, as a 16-0 run in the last 4 minutes of the game collapsed ALBA’s last comeback attempt. Ioannis Papapetrou led all scorers with 22 points, followed by Nemanja Nedovic and Howard Sant-Roos, who provided 13 apiece. Georgios Papagiannis posted 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks for the winners. ALBA, which saw a four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 7-7, was paced by Niels Giffey with 13 points. Peyton Siva tallied 11 points and 6 assists and Luke Sikma added 11 points in defeat.
Even though Sikma dominated inside with two baskets in the early going, the hosts adjusted their defense soon after and took a 14-6 edge on a 9-0 run boosted by the duo of Papagiannis and Papapetrou. The visitors recovered their offensive rhythm right after the timeout, as Giffey provided a couple of buckets, Jonas Mattiseck hit a three and Maodo Lo joined from mid-range to reduce the gap to 17-15. Lo continued punishing from outside and made it 19-18, but Papapetrou and Aaron White connected on back-to-back triples to help Panathinaikos build a 25-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dinos Mitoglou and Papapetrou continued the run by dunking twice to make it 29-18. ALBA didn’t panic. As soon as they evened the rebounding battle, the visitors found their poise on offense. Siva nailed a three, Sikma contributed a three-point play and Tim Schneider hit from deep to get within 31-29. Papapetrou aborted the rally with a timely basket, followed by free throws by Leonidas Kaselakis and Papagiannis that restored a safe margin, 37-29, for the hosts. The latter provided two more from the line to close the first half with the Greens in front, 39-32.
ALBA switched to zone defense right after the break, but the hosts broke it in style with 3 triples in a row to extend the lead to 48-35. Sikma showed up to carry the visitors, but he found little help from his teammates and the Greens only needed a couple of buckets by Sant-Roos to keep a double-digit margin, 52-41, midway through the third quarter. Back-to-back threes by Nedovic enlarged it to 60-45, beginning a shootout from deep between the squads. Louis Olinde and Lo provided a three-pointer each for ALBA and Kaselakis and Nedovic responded to make it 66-52 entering the last quarter. Giffey opened fire with another three and then Mattisseck and Siva joined from deep to prevent Panathinaikos from escaping. The three-point rain didn’t finish yet, as Giffey connected twice from downtown to bring ALBA within 74-67 with 5 minutes to play. However, that would be the closest ALBA would get, as free throws by Nedovic and White gave the hosts some room to open the door to what became a 16-0 run over the last 4 minutes, in which Papaetrou made back-to-back three-pointers and a couple of free throws.
Panathinaikos got big from deep
Even though the hosts were unable to score any three-pointers in the second quarter, they had a great shooting performance from deep the rest of the game, especially in key moments. Seven threes in the third quarter were good enough to keep ALBA under control and back-to-back bombs from Ioannis Papapetrou late in the fourth sealed the outcome.
ALBA shot well, too
The visitors trailed after Papapetrou set an early 7-6 lead for Panathinaikos, but never surrendered despite being down 66-52 entering the fourth quarter. Five three-pointers in a row - 3 of them from Neils Giffey - tightened it to 74-67 with less than 5 minutes to play.
Tired? Who’s tired?
Both teams came from overtime games 48 hours before. The hosts lost against Real Madrid after two extra periods, while ALBA defeated Crvena Zvezda after 45 minutes. Surprisingly, the team that finished stronger was the one who had played more, as Panathinaikos signed off 16 points in four minutes to close the game. ALBA got 0 in the same span.
Ioannis Papapetrou and Georgios Papagiannis were the perfect combo for Panathinaikos in this game, providing solid contributions to help the hosts keep a good balance, both in offense and defense. The former posted 22 points and 4 assists and the latter had 12 points and 4 blocks.
In Round 16 next week, both teams hit the road; Panathinaikos visits Israel to challenge Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv on Tuesday, December 22. ALBA Berlin travels to Spain to face Real Madrid the same day.
Thursday, December 17, 2020