Panathinaikos defeated Partizan 66-82
Panathinaikos registered its first win in Group E by downing Partizan 66-82 in front of a full house of disappointed fans at Pionir Arena in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday night. Panathinaikos, already eliminated from the Quarterfinal Playoffs race, improved to 1-4 and prevented Partizan from making it to the next round yet. Partizan dropped to 3-2 and will be finish first in Group E if it beats already qualified Regal FC Barcelona on the road next week. Partizan will second if it loses and Panathinaikos beats Maroussi, but will be eliminated if it loses in Barcelona and Maroussi downs the Greens. Drew Nicholas led the winners with 22 points on incredible 6-of-6 three-point shooting. Stratos Perperoglou added 16 points while Mike Batiste had 12 for Panathinaikos. Bo McCalebb led Partizan with 22 points but nobody else scored in double digits for the hosts. The game was very balanced in the first half, as a layup by Vassilis Spanoulis tied it at 19-19 while a buzzer-beating tip-in by Batiste allowed Panathinaikos to reach halftime with a 32-35 edge. Perperoglou struck three times from downtown right after the break and found some help from Dimitris Diamantidis and Nicholas to make it a double-digit game, 50-60, after 30 minutes. Panathinaikos boosted its margin to 54-67 soon after that and cruised to a well-deserved win.
A slow start offensively was highlghted by Jan Vesely rejecting a dunk try by Batiste before the latter finsihed a fastbreak to get the scoreboard rolling. Dusan Kecman answered from downtown for Partizan, then his steal was converted as a fastbreak layup by McCalebb. Panathinaikos used baskets by Perperoglou and Diamantidis to go ahead 5-6. A put-back by Aleks Maric got Partizan ahead again, then a triple by Perperoglou was matched by McCalebb's dunk-plus-free throw at 10-9. Nicholas joined the scoring from long-range, and when McCalebb fed Slavko Vranes for a dunk, the lead changed again. Nicholas changed it another time, but Vesely and Aleksandar Rasic were able to tie it up, 17-17. McCalebb again flashed to the rim for a go-ahead layup for Partizan, but Spanoulis fininished the quarter in similar fashion for a 19-19 tie after 10 minutes.
Marcus Haislip's free throw broke the tie to start the second quarter. Lawrence Roberts got Partizan back in front by scoring inside before Spanoulis and Nick Calathes put Panathinaikos up 21-23. Partizan's great offensive rebounding sent Kecman to the line for another tie, but just as quickly, Batiste and Nicholas hit big shots from inside and the arc, respectively, to make it 23-28 and force a Partizan timeout. Another great push on the offensive boards ended with a Roberts tip-in, and after an exchange of free throws, Kecman got the hosts within 28-29. Panathinaikos resisted with a big dunk by Haislip and another inside basket by Giorgi Shermadini, but after a Partizan timeout, McCalebb drove twice for a free throw and left-handed layup at 32-33. Batiste had the last word, however, tipping in a miss to keep the Greens in charge, 32-35 after 20 minutes.
Perperoglou struck from downtown immediately after the break and even when McCalebb scored another wild driving layup, Batiste kept Panathinaikos in front 34-40. Maric provided a highlight with a second-chance dunk, while Panathinaikos tried to play more up-tempo with Diamantidis and Nicholas at both guards. Roberts sank free throws and McCalebb scored in penetration to tie it at 40-40 for Partizan, but Antonis Fotsis stepped up with free throws and Nicholas a catch-and-shoot triple to give the Greens some fresh air at 41-45. McCalebb answered from downtown and even when Perperoglou quickly answered with a mid-range jumper, free throws by Maric kept the hosts as close as 45-47. The Greens chose this moment to pull away, however, as Shermadini did not miss from the foul line and Diamantidis nailed a three-pointer to make Partizan call timeout at 45-52. Perperoglou and Bozic traded triples but free throws by Spanoulis kept the Greens way ahead, 48-57. Perperoglou fired in his fourth shot from downtown before a buzzer-beating reverse layup by Rasic got Partizan within 50-60 after 30 minutes.
McCalebb started the fourth quarter going to the rim again, but a jumper by Haislip kept Panathinaikos way ahead, 52-62. Partizan struggled to score right when it mattered, as Panathinaikos dominated the game with a very effective 2-3 zone defense. McCalebb again scored in transition but he didn't find much help. Meanwhile, free throws by Haislip and another three-pointer by Nicholas boosted the guests' lead to 54-67 with under 6 minutes left. Partizan called timeout and Vesely tried to ignite a comeback with a wild put-back dunk. Batiste and Bozic traded jumpers but Nicholas came off a screen to bury an unbelievable three-pointer that sealed the outcome, 58-72, with under 4 minutes to go. Partizan, pushed by its outstanding crowd, did not gave up but a jumper by Diamantidis and free throws by Batiste allowed the Greens to go home with a prestigious road win and help another Greek team, Maroussi, to stay alive in the competition. Partizan, however, keeps all its options alive and will keep fighting for its third consecutive playoff appearance.
Thursday, March 4, 2010