Thursday's Group C game between last-place Zadar and first-place Panathinaikos was stopped by the referees with 2 minutes, 5 seconds to play and the scoreboard showing the Greens ahead 81-85. The referees- Xavier Amoros (Spain), Genaro Colucci (Italia) and Fedor Dmitriev (Belarus) - ordered the players off the floor, not to return, shortly after Zadar scorer Marko Popovic was whistled for a technical foul. Fans objected to the call and threw hard objects such as lighters and coins to the court. If the score stands, Panathinaikos will have assured itself the best record in the Euroleague regular season, at 12-1, while Zadar still stays at the bottom half of the group with 2-11.
Zadar started the game without Tomislav Ruzic and Panathinaikos without Dejan Bodiroga. The guests came out strong to lead 2-7. For Zadar the only one that was feeling it was Dusan Bocevski, who scored all Zadar's points for the first 4 minutes while forging a 7-7 tie. That became a 10-9 Zadar lead after six minutes, bumped up to 13-9 with a three-pointer by Jurica Ruzic. Johnny Rogers and Darryl Middleton kept the guests in the game briefly, but then Hrvoje Perincic and Ime Odouk joined in the scoring for a 12-6 run by Zadar to a 25-15 lead. Then Bodiroga climbed off the Panathinaikos bench and scored right away to cut the deficit to 25-18 after 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, Tomislav Ruzic entered the game and quickly joined the scoring column for the hosts. But so did Ibrahim Kutluay for Panathinaikos, draining a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 27-21. For three minutes only Odouk, with 4 points, and Giannis Giannoulis, with 6, could get to the basket. Soon, however, Bodiroga was bringing the Greens to within 37-35 with another basket. Alvertis Fragiskos made a three-pointer to cut it to one, 37-36, and finally Corey Albano gave Panathinaikos the lead at 37-39. Zadar did not wilt, however, as Ivan Grgat and Toni Dijan got the advantage back to 44-42 at the half for the home team. At the break, oddly enough, no player had scored in double digits yet, though 17 different ones on both teams had put the ball in the basket.
Both sides started the second half playing zone defense, so shooters started shooting. Popovic and Perincic for Zadar and Sanchez for the guests all made three-pointers. Four minutes in, Zadar was still ahead, 53-49, but Bodiroga was teaming up with Giannoulis to make a push for Panathinaikos. But the young shooter Popovic resisted single-handedly, scoring 9 points in 5 minutes to keep Zadar one step ahead. That step finally disappeared with two minutes left as Kutulay tied the game up 59-59. By the end of quarter, Bodiroga was putting the Greens in the lead 66-68.
The first noticibile lead in the last quarter was by Panathinaikos, 69-75 after 34 minutes. At that point of the game Kalaitzis started his game. In the 36th minute Zadar lost Grgat to five personal fouls, also with that he received a technical foul. The biggest lead for the guests came with 5 minutes to play, 72-82. Then with young players Dijan and Popovic shot Zadar back into the game at 79-82 with 3 minutes still remaining. With a lead still with the guests, 81-85, the technical on Popovic turned out to be the last play before the game was suspended.
Thursday, February 7, 2002