Panathinaikos survives Baskonia comeback
In a game with big playoff implications, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens led by 23 points in the third quarter, but ended up needing to make a rally of its own to pull out a 72-70 win over visiting KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Wednesday night in the Greek capital. Both teams now have 14-13 records, but Baskonia holds the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams due to winning by 9 points against Panathinaikos in Round 9. DeShaun Thomas finished with 16 points, including hitting a game-clinching jumper with 14.2 seconds left, to lead all Panathinaikos scorers. Sean Kilpatrick netted 14 points and Nick Calathes had 11 points, 12 assists and 4 steals in the winning effort. Marcelinho Huertas led Baskonia with 13 points and 6 assists, Shavon Shield scored 13 points, too, and Johannes Voigtmann collected 9 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in defeat.
Calathes had a pair of assists and a three-pointer to get Panathinaikos going from the tip-off. The hosts scored the first 13 points of the night and did not allow a single field goal for more than 8 minutes. Close-range baskets from Calathes and Ian Vougioukas and a transition triple from Keith Langford opened a 21-2 lead. Darrun Hilliard hit from long range for Baskonia and the hosts led 26-10 after 10 minutes. Another three from Hilliard and one from Voigtmann helped cut it to 31-18. But fastbreak baskets from Thomas and Ioannis Papapetrou stop the visitors' brief momentum before Kilpatrick hit a corner triple and then fed Papapetrou for an alley-oop dunk to make it 48-25 late in the first half. The halftime margin was 21 points. The teams went blow for blow early in the third, exchanging close-range and fastbreak baskets. Shields had a coast-to-coast dunk and soon after a layup that sparked a run of 15 unanswered Baskonia points to end the third quarter. Shields and Luca Vildoza hit three-pointers and Hilliard scored a tough layup to help cut it to 56-48 going into the fourth quarter. A jumper from Huertas made it a 0-17 run, which Georgios Papagiannis snapped with a close-range basket, but a jumper and a triple from Vildoza sparked a 0-11 run, with Hilliard hitting a jumper to give Baskonia its first lead of the night and go in front 58-61. But Thomas hit a second-chance three-pointer to snap the run and Panathinaikos went back in front with baskets from Kilpatrick and Calathes. The teams went into the final 2 minutes tied at 67-67, but Kilpatrick knocked down a corner triple and after the hosts made a pair of defensive stands, Thomas nailed a jumper with 14.2 seconds left to decide the winner.
Led by Nick Calathes and behind their stellar defense, the hosts raced out to a 13-0 lead, not allowing a single point for the opening 3 minutes and 57 seconds. Panathinaikos did not stop there, but went on another 8-0 run that increased the lead to 21-2 on a transition triple by Keith Langford. Baskonia needed more than 8 minutes to make its first field goal.
Baskonia magical rally
Baskonia had a 0-17 run to end the third and open the fourth quarter, then followed it right up with a 0-11 run. Altogether, a 2-28 spurt that turned a 56-33 Panathinaikos lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter into a 58-61 Baskonia lead with 6:08 to go in the game.
Baskonia and Panathinaikos split their regular season series and it is Baskonia which has what could end up being a key tiebreak advantage over Panathinaikos thanks to its 86-77 win in Round 9. Baskonia also holds tiebreakers over Milan and Bayern and it swept Maccabi, while it got swept by Olympiacos. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos has so far split regular season games, but lost tiebreakers against Barcelona, Olympiacos and Maccabi.
Before the tip-off, Panathinaikos paid a tribute to its long-time president Thanasis Giannakopoulos who died on Tuesday at the age of 88. The fans gave a standing ovation before observing a moment of silence.
The teams are in action again on Friday, with Baskonia hosting defending champion and fellow Spanish side Real Madrid, while Panathinaikos travels to face AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019