Panathinaikos defeat Cibona 86-69
Panathinaikos used a well-balanced team effort to defeat Cibona 86-69 and improve to 2-0 in Group B on Thursday at the home in Athens. Mike Batiste led the way with 15 points, going 6-for-6 on two-pointers as 10 different Panathinaikos players scored at least 5 points. The game was close for much of the first three quarters before the Greens took the game with a push in the fourth quarter. Nikos Hatzivrettas added 13 points and Tony Delk 12 for the hosts. Chris Warren and Davor Kus scored 14 each, Marijan Mance 12 and Goran Vrbanc 11 for Cibona, whose star power forward, Brent Wright, was completely shut down by the impressive Green defense. Wright missed his only two shots before fouling out in under 16 minutes.
No doubt remembering how they fell behind by 24 a week earlier in the season's opening game, the Greens stormed out with high intensity in the first quarter of their home debut. Panathinaikos scored 6 points between Nikos Chatzivrettas and Dimos Dikoudis before Cibona could react with free throws from Marton Bader and a triple from Davor Kus. Ramunas Siskauskas answered from the arc, however, and then Chatizivrettas made it 12-5 before Cibona woke up again. Vrbanc and Warren got going and did not stop until the latter's three-pointer tied it 18-18. Warren would finish with 12 points on the quarter, finishing it with another strike from the arc to send the visitors in front, 23-25 after 10 minutes.
The Panathinaikos defense dominated the early second quarter, holding Cibona scoreless for almost 5 minutes until a dunk by Diamantidis and free throws by Delk sent the hosts ahead 27-25. Marijan Mance got Cibona on the board again from the free throw line, where Warren also made a pair. But Dejan Tomasevic and Sani Becirovic boosted the Panathinaikos lead to 34-29 before Cibona made its first points of the quarter that weren't free throws. Again it was Mance, with a jumper this time, and when Kus followed by firing in a triple, it was a tie ballgame at 34-34. Tomasevic and Mance traded layups before Siskauskas ended the half at the line putting the Greens ahead 38-36. The Greens made just 2 out of 11 three-poiners and Cibona 4 of 13 on the half.
Panathinaikos showed its aggressiveness from the beginning of the third period, blasting off on a 10-0 run and a 48-36 lead after 24 minutes. Becirovic with a three- pointer and Tomasevic with 5 points and a nice assist to Batiste gave the Greens what they needed to control the rhythm of the game. But Cibona never gave up. Jurica Zuza scored 6 points in the second half of the quarter while Vrbanc and Kus offered offensive solutions in cutting the margin to 57-53 before Becirovic ended the quarter with free throws. That was to be the last time that the visitors threatened the lead, however.
The last period belonged to Panathinaikos and especially to its perimeter players. Delk scored 7 of his 12 points in the last 10 minutes, and the Greens got great help from youngster Dusan Sakota, who made a pair of three-ppointers, while Chatzivrettas that continued to be a great danger near Cibona's basket. A couple of shots from behind the arc by Mance and another by Jerry Mc Cullough were not enough to keep Cibona alive, but Panathinaikos pushed the gas even more to open a 17-point margin and never let the visitors get hopeful. In the end, the Greens proved to have much more solutions and experience than Cibona and were able to show that they plan to do whatever is neccessary to avoid any team challenging them in Athens.
Thursday, November 2, 2006