A rematch of the third-place game from last season's Final Four saw the same result on Wednsday, when Panathinaikos outdueled CSKA 92-82 at home in Athens to keep at least a piece of first place in Group C. The Greens moved up to a 2-0 record thanks to the emergence of Vassilis Spanoulis, who scored 28 points while missing only one shot all night. Spanoulis made 8 of 8 two-pointers, 2 of 3 triples and 6 of 6 free throws while also dishing 3 assists in 28 minutes. Jaka Lakovic added 17 points for the winners, Fragiskos Alvertis 13 and Dimitris Diamantidis 12. CSKA, which held short leads much of the game, got 20 points from J.R. Holden among five double-figure scorers. Theodoros Papaloukas had 16 and 7 assists, Trajan Langdon 12 points, Alexey Savrasenko and David Andersen 10 each.
Panathinaikos began by running as Nikos Hatzivrettas and Lakovic shot the hosts ahead 6-0, but CSKA reacted immediately. Langdon scored a four-point play for 6-4, but left the court due to an injury. Papaloukas entered and lifted CSKA's spirits with three-pointer that cut the difference to 10-9. Sergey Panov would sink another triple for a 10-14 CSKA edge before Langdon returned to stroke from the arc, too, making it 12-19. In less than two minutes, the Russians had a 0-10 run, and thanks to a three-point basket-plus-free throw by Panov, were now ahead 14-22. Panathinaikos didn't panic, but found Spanoulis off the bench not only to score, but also to defend and steady his team. His 7 quick points added to those of Dimitris Diamantidis pushed Panathinaikos on a 11-6 run, after which the quarter ended with CSKA's lead cut to 23-26.
Both teams wnt full steam ahead into the second quarter in an offense-oriented, spectacular match. Panathinaikos increased its run to 18-7 as Diamantidis bagged 5 consecutive points, a three-pointer included, pushing the hosts ahead 30-26. Then came Holden's time, as CSKA's point guard scored 7 points to push his team back in front, 30-31. Dejan Tomasevic scored for 32-31, but Papaloukas responded with a three-pointer and 3 assists dished to Alexey Savrasenko. A triple by Vlado Scepanovic brought the Greens back ahead, 35-34, but CSKA kept its cool and answered with Savrasenko scoring 6 points in a row to close the first half ahead 42-45.
Neither team scored in the first 2 minutes after halftime, but after Diamantidis got the Greens within 45-47 with a triple, Papaloukas pushed CSKA back up 45-50. CSKA tried some zone defense, but the Greens found their momentum and had the proper answer with either perimeter shots or penetrations. Spanoulis seemed unstoppable as he nailed 7 fast points and joined with Fragiskos Alvertis for a 15-4 run that boosted the hosts into the lead by 60-54 after 27 minutes. CSKA didn't allow it to go further, thanks to David Andersen, who sparked a 2-8 reaction for a 62-62 tie. The end of the third quarter found Panathinaikos clinging to a 65-64 edge.
Holden and Langdon returned for the fourth quarter on fire, the former sinking a big triple and the latter making a three-point basket-plus-free throw as CSKA soared ahead again, 65-70. But Spanoulis was even hotter. His jumper cut the margin to 69-70, but Holden made a remarkable shot for 69-72 and added two free throws to keep CSKA up 71-74. Then Lakovic joined Spanoulis in leading with a pair of three-pointers that vaulted the Greens in front, 79-74, with 4 minutes to go. Andersen tightened the difference to 79-76, but Lakovic hit another three-pointer for 82-76. Savrasenko trimmed the gap to 82-79, but then missed 2 free throws which Spanoulis followed with the showstopping play of the game, a jumper on the 24-second shot clock buzzer that make it 84-78. Papaloukas scored free throws for CSKA, Diamantidis hit 4 in a row to help seal a first Panathinaikos home win in Group C.
Wednesday, November 9, 2005