Panathinaikos rolls on the road to a share of first place
Panathinaikos Athens moved into a three-way tie for first place in Group A of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season by slowly but surely taking down Union Olimpija 67-85 on the latter's home court, Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Friday night. Panathinaikos raised its record to 3-1, matching both Real Madrid and Fenerbahce Ulker, while Olimpija lost its second in a row at home after having opened the season with a road win. Panathinaikos led for all but the game's first couple of minutes, repeatedly out-maneuvering Olimpija for easy points. Jonas Maciulis led the winners with 18 points and dished 5 assists. Roko Ukic followed with 14 points and the same 5 assists. Stephane Lasme came off the bench for 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. And Charis Giannopoulos drilled 3 of 4 three-pointers on his way to 12 points. Olimpija, which was missing double-digit scorer Sasu Salin, got 16 from Aaron Baynes, 11 from Klemen Prepelic and 10 plus 7 assists from Dominic Walters. Panathinikos ruled the boards however, with 40 rebounds to Olimpija's 26 and dished 24 assists to just 15 for the hosts.
Panathinaikos edges ahead behind Maciulis
Baynes got Olimpija on the board first with a jump hook and scored the second on a feed from Waters. Problem for his team was that Panathinaikos scored 7 points in between and answered his second shot with a three-pointer by Andy Panko that put the visitors in front 5-10. Maciulis added to his earlier triple with back-to-back baskets that extended the Panathinaikos lead to 9-14 before Dylan Page also hit from downtown for Olimpija to trim the difference to 13-14. Out of a timeout, Sofoklis Schortsanitis backed down for his first points. Waters matched him with a tear-drop layup, but Sofo made up for a turnover out of a triple-team by finding Dimitris Diamantidis for three the next time. Panko's tip-in got the lead up to 17-21 before Page answered in close. A game-tying shot by Dino Muric was ruled too late for the shot clock, then Olimpija gave back a steal for a Diamantidis layup as the first quarter finished 19-23 in favor of the visitors.
Subs help Greens surge
Alen Omic dropped in a nice feed from Prepelic to open the second-quarter scoring and added a give-and-go shot off the board to cut the difference to 24-25. However, Ukic scored in close for Panathinaikos and fed Derwin Kitchen for an easy layup before Kostas Tsartsaris assisted a dunk by Michael Bramos. An Olimpija timeout failed to prevent Ukic driving easily to post the biggest Panathinikos lead yet, 24-31. Prepelic came to the rescue with a straight-on triple for Olimpija. Good passing led to easy baskets, of which Stephane Lasme assisted one and scored another as the Panathinaikos lead ballooned to a new high, 29-37. Again coach Saso Filipovski implored his Olimpija players during a timeout to defend better, but right after it, Maciulis scored a layup-plus-free throw combination to make it 29-40. Baynes returned to get 3 free throws and draw the second foul on Schortsanitis, but the latter passed out of another triple team for another triple, by Ukic, to restore the double-digit lead at 32-43. Big Sofo was on the receiving end next and by the time Charis Giannopoulos tipped in a miss, it was 36-47. Giannopoulos had time for one more shot, however, a three-pointer on the second-quarter buzzer to match the game's highest lead, 38-50, at halftime.
Lasme takes over
Lasme added to the Panathinaikos advantage with free throws to open the second half, but he wasn't done. He blocked a shot at one end and finished the resulting fastbreak as the lead climbed to 38-54. Waters fed Baynes to unlock Olimpija's scoring column, and then they reversed the process on a fastbreak layup that made it 42-54. Maciulis kept racking up points with a corner triple to make it 44-59, but this time Prepelic was rady to copy him. Panathinaikos remained the aggressor however, as Panko made a second-chance tip-in at 48-61. Lasme made his presence felt again with three blocks in a row on defense and then slammed a pass from Panko. Maciulis struck from the corner again and Ukic finished an easy fastbreak for a new high Panathinaikos lead, 50-69, at the end of three quarters.
Greens take it home
Olimpija found Baynes for the first 3 points of the final quarter, but Giannopoulos reappeared to match those with one shot before Diamantidis fed Lasme for a layup. Waters got a basket back and Prepelic fed Baynes for a dunk at 59-75, but again Lasme answered for the Greens with a slam and free throw to make it 59-78 with 5 minutes to play. The Panathinaikos defense made sure that the points came slow after that, too slow for Olimpija to threaten a comeback as the Greens went home happy, with a piece of first place in Group A.
Friday, October 26, 2012