Panathinaikos edged Caja Laboral 76-74
In an outstanding showdown that went down to the last second, Panathinaikos got closer to clinch a Quarterfinal Playoffs spot in difficult Top 16 Group E by edging Caja Laboral 76-74 in Athens, Greece on Thursday night. Panathinaikos improved to 3-1 and became the exclusive leader in Group E while Laboral ties with Lietuvos Rytas for second place at 2-2. Antonis Fotsis led the winners with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Batiste and Drew Nicholas each added 12 while Stratos Perperoglou had 10 for Panathinaikos. David Logan led Laboral with 20 points on 5-of-7 three-pointers. Fernando San Emeterio added 19 while Marcelinho Huertas had 17 for the guests, that rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to tie the game, 72-72, on a three-point play by Esteban Batista. Batiste followed a critical basket with free throws to give the hosts a 76-74 edge with 4.2 seconds left. San Emeterio drew a foul with 0.2 seconds remaining but missed both free throw attempts.
Fotsis got Panathinaikos going with a three-pointer but Huertas quickly answered from downtown for a 3-3 tie. Fotsis kept pacing the Greens with a ayup-plus-foul, as Nemanja Bjelica quickly came off the bench to balance the guests' size disadvantage against Perperoglou and Romain Sato. Diamantidis fed Fotsis for a power basket that forced Laboral to call timeout at 8-3. Sato hit free throws and a jumper by Batiste boosted the hosts' lead to 12-3. Perperoglou sent the crowd to their feet with a coast-to-coast layup that capped an 11-0 Panathinaikos run. Laboral found a go-to guy in San Emeterio, who downed a three-pointer, and another, and then a third to single-handedly bring the guests back to life at 15-12. Nicholas answered from downtown and a fast break layup by Perperoglou restored a 20-12 Panathinaikos edge. Logan joined the three-point shootout and San Emeterio buried his fourth shot from beyond the arc to bring Laboral within 21-18 after 10 minutes.
Nicholas downed consecutive three-pointers early in the second quarter, as Laboral has missed all of its 6 free throw attempts so far in the game. Logan fired in one from downtown but Ian Vougioukas matched with a layup-plus-foul that gave Panathinaikos a 30-21 lead. Laboral tried a more aggressive frontcourt with Pape Sow and Batista together on court, trying to be more physical in the paint. Batista scored down low and Logan, now playing point guard, nailed back-to-back three-pointers but free throws by Dimitris Diamantidis kept the Greens ahead, 34-29. Panathinaikos improved its defense off a timeout, not allowing easy shots from downtown. San Emeterio nailed a close jumper that Fotsis matched with a put-back basket. Logan stayed unstoppable with a high-flying driving layup, igniting a 0-8 run in which Mirza Teletovic followed a power basket with a big triple for a 36-39 Laboral edge. Fotsis stepped up with a put-back basket and a floating layup by Milenko Tepic gave the hosts a 40-39 lead at halftime.
Laboral tried to slow down the game tempo after the break and Logan finished a long offense with his fifth three-pointer. Fotsis answered from downtown and a close jumper by Perperoglou put the Greens back ahead, 45-42. Huertas took over with a smooth driving layup and a second-chance basket by Batista made Laboral regain the lead, 45-46. Sato nailed a six-meter shot and Laboral entered the foul bonus too early in the third quarter, forcing coach Dusko Ivanovic to adjust his team's man-to-man defense. Diamantidis fed Batiste for an easy layup and Nicholas added a fast break basket that made Laboral stop the game at 51-46. Diamantidis found Fotsis for a backdoor layup, as Laboral could not find the way to the basket against the Greens' aggressive defense. A power layup by Tsartsaris capped a 10-0 run that gave the Greens a 55-46 margin. San Emeterio hit a jumper in the paint but free throws by Diamantidis and Fotsis made it a double-digit game, 59-48. Sow scored down low to get the guests within 59-50 after 30 minutes.
Logan buried a step-back jumper early in the fourth quarter, as Laboral started to power the boards again with non-shooting fouls to give. Huertas soon joined the three-point shootout to bring the guests back to life, 59-55. Panathinaikos had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes and Huertas struck again from downtown to make the Greens call timeout at 59-58, after a 0-10 run. Batiste stepped up with a one-handed dunk and soon added a high-flying tip-in to give the Greens some fresh air, 63-58. Logan and a red hot Batiste traded free throws but another driving layup by Huertas still kept Laboral within 65-62. Huertas sank a floating jumper but a free throw by Diamantidis and an open triple by Perperoglou restored a 69-64 Panathinaikos lead with over 3 minutes left. Laboral missed twice from downtown but San Emeterio still brought his team within 69-66. Fotsis rounded his outstanding game with a critical three-pointer but Teletovic silenced the crowd with his own bomb from downtown and Batista added a three-point play for a 72-72 tie with 38.2 seconds to go. Batiste scored down low but free throws by Huertas tied the game again, 74-74, with 19.8 seconds left. Batiste drew a foul and calmly made free throws with 4.2 second left but San Emeterio raced downcourt and drew a foul. With just 0.2 seconds left, San Emeterio missed both attempts from the line, allowing all Panathinaikos fans to celebrate and incredible, tough home win!
Thursday, February 17, 2011