2015-16Top 16Round 13
April 01, 2016 CET: 20:45

Panathinaikos reaches playoffs on festive night

On a night when three-time champion Dimitris Diamantidis was officially named a Euroleague Basketball Legend, Panathinaikos Athens celebrated by clinching a place in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs for a sixth consecutive season by downing Cedevita Zagreb 76-60 on a festive Friday night in the Greek capital. Panathinaikos learned that it had qualified for the playoffs early in the second quarter, when Anadolu Efes Istanbul lost against Fenerbahce Istanbul. By that time, however, Panathinaikos was already up by 15 points against Cedevita, a lead it never relinquished. The Greens opened the game with 20-5 run that ballooned to 42-19 at halftime. The hosts were up by 29 points in the third quarter before Cedevita put together a 5-25 run to make things little more interesting. But the Panathinaikos lead was never threatened. The victory improved its Group E record to 9-4, which means that Panathinaikos cannot finish worse than third place. It can still clinch second place and home-court advantage in the playoffs with a win next week against already-eliminated Efes, but only if Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar loses at Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. James Gist paced Panathinaikos with 15 points plus 9 rebounds and Diamantidis had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on his special night. Sasha Pavlovic added 9 points, and Nick Calathes did a little bit of everything with 5 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots in victory. For Cedevita, Marko Arapovic collected 11 points plus 8 rebounds, while Toni Katic had 9 points in the absence of Nemanja Gordic.

First quarter: Panathinaikos takes control right away

It took teams more than 2 minutes before Ognjen Kuzmic scored the game's first points for Panathinaikos on free throws. The Greens continued with Calathes and Elliot Williams hooking up for an alley-oop dunk before Sasha Pavlovic's put-back on a fastbreak made it 6-0. After a Cedevita timeout, James White opened the visitors' account, but the hosts played tenacious defense, forcing 6 turnovers in the first 5 minutes. Gist and Pavlovic each scored from close range for a 10-2 lead before a Calathes runner meant a double-digit margin within 6 minutes. Karlo Zganec scored a second-chance layup for Cedevita, but Diamantidis dished for a Miroslav Raduljica dunk to spark an 8-0 run during which Antonis Fotsis drove for a layup and James Feldeine went coast-to-coast for a thundering dunk and a 20-5 scoreboard after 10 minutes.

Second quarter: The Greens dominate

Zganec and White opened the second quarter by scoring inside. However, after a Panathinaikos timeout, MarQuez Haynes buried a three-pointer and a baseline jumper to push the lead to 26-9. Miro Bilan made a put-back for Cedevita, and after a pair of foul shots from Diamantidis, Fran Pilepic got a lucky bounce on a jumper to cut the difference to 28-13. Vince Hunter finished an easy dunk for the Greens that Dzanan Musa matched with a dribble-drive layup before Pavlovic nailed a triple to make it 34-15. Arapovic answered with a pair of baskets inside, but Panathinaikos proceeded to score the last 8 points of the quarter. Gist nailed a corner triple, Feldeine made a steal and went the other way for a fastbreak dunk, before Gist beat the halftime buzzer with another three-pointer, making it 42-19 at the break.

Third quarter: Margin reaches 29 points

Kuzmic had a put-back before Luka Babic drove the lane and then added a runner for Cedevita. Calathes hit a triple to make it 47-23, then made a steal and fed Williams for a fastbreak dunk. His next dish was for an alley-oop dunk to Pavlovic at 51-23. After a timeout, Gist scored inside, before White snapped a 9-1 Panathinaikos run with a layup. Katic hit a long jumper for the visitors and Pilepic got another favorable bounce on a three-point attempt, making it 55-32. Diamantidis fed Hunter for a layup before Arapovic had a three-point play and Katic made a runner at 58-37 after three quarters.

Fourth quarter: Cedevita cuts it to single digits

Luka Zoric made a baseline move to open the final quarter, before Katic nailed a jumper then drove for a layup that cut the margin to 58-43. After a Panathinaikos timeout, Cedevita made four defensive stands, and a fastbreak layup from Arapovic cut the difference more before Pilepic's transition triple capped a 5-25 run with the visitors now within 58-49. The hosts snapped their drought with Gist fighting inside for a put-back-plus-foul. Zoric scored inside, but only in between threes from Panathinaikos veterans Antonis Fotsis and Diamantidis, who upped the difference to 67-53. Zoric scored twice more for the visitors, but Gist kept the margin in double figures from the foul line. Fittingly, Diamantidis hit another three-pointer, and soon after was taken out of the game, getting a standing ovation from the fans. Musa scored a layup, but Fotsis nailed another three to round out the scoring on a playoff-clinching night for the Greens.

James Gist - Panathinaikos Athens - EB15
Friday, April 1, 2016
Attendance: 16366
By Quarter1234
Panathinaikos Athens20221618
Cedevita Zagreb5141823
End of Quarter1234
Panathinaikos Athens20425876
Cedevita Zagreb5193760
Panathinaikos Athens
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
0 HAYNES, MARQUEZ 8:29 6 1/1 1/1 1/3           1     1 1 3
3 PAVLOVIC, SASHA 22:18 9 3/4 1/4   1 2 3 2   1     3 1 7
8 JANKOVIC, VLADIMIR DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 FOTSIS, ANTONIS 18:58 8 1/1 2/6     1 1             2 7
10 RADULJICA, MIROSLAV 17:32 2 1/5       1 1 2 1 4     2 5 1
12 FELDEINE, JAMES 16:52 7 2/2 0/4 3/4   3 3 2 2 1     1 2 9
13 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS 20:34 10   2/5 4/4 2 4 6 3 1 1       3 19
14 GIST, JAMES 25:49 15 3/11 2/3 3/5 4 5 9 1 3   1 1 2 4 19
15 CALATHES, NICK 31:31 5 1/5 1/1     6 6 6 3 2 2 1 2 1 14
21 KUZMIC, OGNJEN 8:54 4 1/4   2/2 4   4   1       4 3 5
22 WILLIAMS, ELLIOT 20:16 5 2/6   1/2   2 2 2   2     4 1 -1
32 HUNTER, VINCE 8:47 5 2/2   1/2 1 2 3     1     3 1 4
Team           1 2 3               3
Totals 200:00 76 17/41 9/24 15/22 13 28 41 18 11 13 3 2 22 24 90
        41.5% 37.5% 68.2%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Cedevita Zagreb
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
0 PULLEN, JACOB 17:56   0/3 0/4   1 2 3 1 2 4   1 1 3 -4
4 WHITE, JAMES 22:12 6 3/6 0/1 0/1   4 4     1     3 3 4
6 KATIC, TONI 22:04 9 4/5   1/2   1 1 2   3     1 4 10
8 PILEPIC, FRAN 24:43 6 0/2 2/2         3 1 2     3   3
9 BABIC, LUKA 15:25 5 2/5 0/2 1/2 1 2 3 2   1     2 1 2
11 ZGANEC, KARLO 9:52 5 2/2   1/2 1   1   1       3 1 4
13 MUSA, DZANAN 17:40 5 2/5 0/5 1/2 1 1 2 2 2 1   2 2 3  
15 BILAN, MIRO 19:30 5 2/5   1/2 2 4 6 1   3     2 2 5
18 MAZALIN, LOVRO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
21 ZORIC, LUKA 20:30 8 3/9   2/2 2 2 4 2     1   4 1 6
35 ARAPOVIC, MARKO 30:08 11 4/9 0/2 3/3 2 6 8 2   1 1   3 4 15
Team           6 6 12               12
Totals 200:00 60 22/51 2/16 10/16 16 28 44 15 6 16 2 3 24 22 57
        43.1% 12.5% 62.5%
Head coach: MRSIC, VELJKO

Head Coaches

Panathinaikos Athens
“This is what we wanted. This is why we practice and play. This is just one more step towards our goal. A coach always wants to see better players. Tonight, we just stopped playing at one moment. We had a good 25 or 28 minutes. We just stopped for 5 minutes. You can't explain: that's basketball. Cedevita is a Euroleague team. They have pride. They're young. They played a good 10 minutes in the second half, but I think we came up real strong tonight."

"We had a very serious approach to this game, after we practiced very hard to get our game on a better level. All the players had a great attitude and played great defense in the first half. This is the first step to achieve what we worked for. I am very happy because the team has a lot of enthusiasm and a huge will to succeed. We have to play one more game next week against Anadolu Efes, but I don't know if something will change in the standings. However we are in a good position and everybody enjoys the situation. We are healthy, we stay together and have fun in playing basketball. Our goal is to make it to the Final Four, but we still have a long way to walk to reach it."

Cedevita Zagreb
"Congratulations to Panathinaikos, who played much better than us, especially in the first half. I hope they have success and make it to the Final four. We committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter, most of them without pressure and allowed Panathinaikos to run and score in transition. Later we managed to cut the deficit to 9 points, but they reacted and didn't let us to fight for the victory. Our leaders didn't play at the level they are used to. We have one more game to play and then will put our emphasis to the domestic league."


Panathinaikos Athens
"I am very excited about what happened tonight, because we advanced to the quarterfinals, but it is not enough. We want more and we will try to get it. The ultimate goal is to reach the Final Four and anything can happen in this competition. We will fight to have the home-court advantage, because I think that nobody can beat us here. I am very proud to play with Diamantidis and also grateful for his help inside and outside the court. He is just a legend and I wish he plays one more season here."
Panathinaikos Athens
"We are playing very good basketball right now and the most important thing is that we win games and advance to the quarterfinals. Tonight it was a very special moment for Dimitris Diamantisis and I feel that it’s a great honor to play with him. He deserved to be a Euroleague Legend. I trust myself and I am excited to drive the team in the future, but it is too early to talk about it. The most important thing now is to play better and get the best possible results. "
Panathinaikos Athens
We worked the whole season for this and I am very happy we did it. Cedevita is a good team and we had to stay focused and fight hard to beat them. We showed once again our strong character and this is something like very much. It was a big night for our captain, Dimitris Diamantidis, and he deserves to enjoy it."
Panathinaikos Athens
"I'm super happy for [making the playoffs]. From beginning this was our goal. Of course, the real goal is to make the Final Four, but we have to go step by step. We started at a great pace but then in the third quarter, we stopped playing defense. But we came back in the fourth quarter and finished the job."
Cedevita Zagreb
"We started very bad and had a poor performance in the first half. Then we tried to cut the margin, but it’s is always tough to play here against Panathinaikos."