Panathinaikos overcame Regal FC Barcelona 71-75
Panathinaikos rounded a perfect night for road teams in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Quarterfinal Playoffs by rallying from a 16-point deficit to edge defending champion Regal FC Barcelona 71-75 in front of a sellout crowd at Palau Blaugrana in Game 2 of their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Thursday. Just as the other three series in the competition, Regal FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos are tied at 1-1, but the Greens host Games 3 and 4 in the Greek capital next week. Romain Sato paced the Greens with 18 points, Dimitris Diamantidis added 17 plus 5 assists, Mike Batiste scored 14 and Drew Nicholas 10 for the winners. Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with 19 points, Alan Anderson and Fran Vazquez had 11 each and Boni Ndong 10 in a losing effort. Navarro had 6 points in a 9-0 run that gave Barcelona an early 11-3 lead. An acrobatic one-handed jumper by Vazquez helped the hosts to keep a 17-10 edge after 10 minutes. Vazquez and Jaka Lakovic shined early in the second quarter to make it a 16-point game. Sato and Batiste tried to change things for Panathinaikos, but only brought the Greens within 38-28 at halftime. An outstanding Diamantidis struck three times from downtown after the break and Sato added two more from beyond the arc in a 0-11 run that completed the Greens' comeback, 57-61, early in the fourth quarter. Batiste and Nicholas helped the guests to get a 62-70 margin with four minutes left. Navarro led the hosts back within 1 in the final minute and Lakovic has a look from downtown that would have put Barca on top in the closing seconds, but it missed and Panathinaikos celebrated a season-changing victory.
Anderson got Barcelona going with a fast break layup that Nick Calathes bettered with a three-point play. Just as in Game 1, Panathinaikos tried to power the offensive boards to prevent fast break points in the early going. Navarro, however, scored in transition, split free throws and fired in a three-pointer from the left corner for an 8-3 Barcelona lead. Panathinaikos tried a more dynamic frontcourt with Batiste and Kostas Kaimakoglou around the baskets. Anderson made a free throw and a hook shot by Kosta Perovic capped a 9-0 Barcelona run. Dimitris Diamantidis hit foul shots, but Vazquez erased them with a floating layup. Batiste stepped up with a fourth-chance tip-in. Barcelona tried Victor Sada on Diamantidis. Drew Nicholas sank a free throw, but Barcelona was all over the place in defense, forcing Panathinaikos into 6 first-quarter turnovers. Vazquez nailed a five-meter shot and matched Nicholas's transition basket with a buzzer-beating one-handed turnaround jumper, good for a 17-10 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes.
Lakovic sank his trademark triple off the dribble to boost Barcelona's lead to double digits, 20-10, early in the second quarter. Batiste sank a mid-range jumper, but Vazquez set the crowd on fire with a two-handed slam. Lakovic sank a close jumper in transition that forced head coach Zeljko Obradovic to stop the game at 24-12. Ndong scored around the basket and Panathinaikos brought Aleks Maric in the game off that timeout. Ndong quickly added an easy basket that broke the game open, 28-12, after 14 minutes. Sato tried to change things with a three-pointer and free throws, as Barcelona struggled to score for the first time tonight. Batiste soon added a power layup to make the hosts call timeout at 28-19. Batiste capped a 0-9 run with a put-back basket but a three-pointer by Erazem Lorbek gave Barcelona some fresh air at 31-21. Batiste kept pacing the Greens with a reverse layup that Ricky Rubio improved with a three-point play. Kostas Tsartsaris shined with an off-balance layup and Nicholas bettered Anderson's jumper with a seven-meter bomb. Free throws by Navarro fixed the halftime score at 38-28.
Anderson nailed a three-pointer off the dribble immediately after the break but free throws by Sato kept Panathinaikos within 41-30. Lorbek shined with a power basket that Diamantidis improved with his trademark corner triple. Anderson answered from downtown but a layup-plus-foul by Antonis Fotsis gave the Greens some hope, 46-36. Panathinaikos had adjusted its defense, forcing Barcelona to take long shots. Nicholas buried a six-meter jumper and a free throw by Diamantidis got Panathinaikos as close as 46-39. Barcelona had been scoreless for more than 4 minutes and a three-pointer by Diamantidis capped a 0-8 Panathinaikos run, 46-42. Lorbek stepped up with free throws and Ndong scored around the basket to get the crowd even more involved at 50-42. Diamantidis insisted from downtown but a jumper by Ndong and a triple by Navarro gave Barcelona a 55-44 lead. Diamantidis nailed another three-pointer and found Calathes for a corner triple but Ndong put in a loose ball for a 57-50 score. Foul shots by Maric and Diamantidis and a buzzer-beating triple by Sato made it a one-point game, 57-56, after 30 minutes.
A layup by an unstoppable Sato completed the guests' comeback, 57-58, early in the fourth quarter. Barcelona could not match the Greens' physicality, which preventing the hosts from circulating the ball. Sato struck from downtown to cap a 0-11 run. Vazquez sank a jumper off a timeout, but Sato bettered that with an incredible three-pointer. Rubio rescued the hosts with a layup-plus-foul only to see Calathes scored in penetration to make it 62-66 with under six minutes to go. Panathinaikos kept forcing the hosts to take off-balance shots and an alley-oop layup by Batiste forced Barcelona to stop the game at 62-68.Nicholas shined with a driving layup and Tsartsaris matched Navarro's free throws with a jump hook. Barcelona tried to speed up the game tempo and Navarro took over with a long triple for a 67-72 deficit with over two minutes remaining. Diamantidis missed from downtown, but Vazquez only made 1 free throw at the other end. Then Panathinaikos managed to burn some clock after a clutch Diamantidis offensive rebounds. But Batiste turned the ball over and Navarro attacked the Greens’ big man for a basket-plus-foul to bring the fans to their feet at 71-72. Not yet in the bonus, Barca had to chase Panathinaikos to foul Fotsis and then Diamantidis. The latter went to the line with 17.5 seconds left, but made just 1 to put his team up 2. Lakovic went for the win with a pull-up triple with time to spare, but missed and Diamantidis managed to get the ball to Batiste for a victory slam as time expired.
Thursday, March 24, 2011