Panathinaikos rallies from 20 down to beat Milan in OT
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens rallied from 20 points down to knock off AX Armani Exchange Milan 86-83 in overtime at home and toughen Milan’s fight for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Mario Hezonja scored a game-high 17 points and Ben Bentil tallied a career-high 16 points with 6 rebounds for Panathinaikos, which trailed 22-42 in the second quarter, but allowed only 24 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. Georgios Papagiannis collected 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, Ioannis Papapetrou scored 14 points and Shelvin Mack chipped in 11 points to help Panathinaikos improve to 11-20. Vladimir Micov scored 15 points to pace six scorers in double figures for Milan, which dropped to 20-13 and fifth place. Kevin Punter poured in 13 points, Zach Leday, Kaleb Tarczewski and Shavon Shields all had 12 points and Sergio Rodriguez contributed 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the loss.
After Papagiannis opened the scoring, Milan got the next 6 points and then Leday and Punter drained three-pointers for a 4-12 lead. Shields and Punter followed from deep and the margin was 6-20. Nedovic answered with a three-pointer and Hezonja added 4 points to get Panathinaikos within 13-23. The guests led 15-26 after 10 minutes. Rodriguez twice fed Tarczewski for baskets in the opening moments of the second quarter. Micov drained a triple and Tarczewski scored yet again as Milan extended the margin to 20-37. It ballooned to 20 points (22-42) on another Leday three-pointer. Bentil punched back from deep and Panathinaikos trimmed it to 15 points, but trailed 29-46 at the break.
Bentil opened the second half with two scores before a three-pointer from Papapetrou. The big man picked up 4 more points as Panathinaikos trimmed the deficit to 40-50. Micov hit back with a three-pointer and a Rodriguez layup pushed the gap to 40-55. Panathinaikos dug in defensively and held the guests scoreless for nearly 4 minutes. Hezonja drained a triple as the lead was down to 46-55. Luigi Datome stopped the drought, but Aaron White’s free throws made it 49-59 after 30 minutes.
Shields scored the first 4 points of the final frame as the lead got to 14 points, 49-63. Panathinaikos got three-pointers from Mack and Papapetrou as the deficit shrunk to single figures, 55-63. A Tarczewski dunk snapped a 3-minute scoreless streak only to see Papapetrou score at the other end and Bentil rebound a missed bonus free throw and put it back, 59-65. The Greens’ defense remained resilient, while Papagiannis came up with three scores to make it 68-69. Punter made just one of two free throws with 14 seconds left and that allowed Hezonja to even the game on a layup with 1.8 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
Hezonja opened the extra session with a three-pointer and after Tarczewski split 2 free throws, Mack also hit from deep. Papapetrou followed suit from long range and Panathinaikos led 81-73 midway through the overtime. Mack added two layups and the hosts were up 85-75 with under 2 minutes to play. Milan had one more run left as Micov hit a three-pointer and Datome converted three free throws with 18 seconds left to make it 86-83. Papagiannis missed both free throws 7 seconds later, but Datome was off-target on the potential game-tying three-pointer.
Comeback specialist against Milan
Panathinaikos's rally from 20 points down was the biggest comeback by the Greens in a EuroLeague game to win. The previous record was 17 points - in a game against Milan as well in 2018.
Nedovic back in the mix
Panathinaikos's efforts were given a boost as the game marked the return of Nemanja Nedovic. The Serbian guard came into the game averaging 16.7 points a game, having last played in Round 23. Nedovic only recorded 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 block. But most importantly, he helped Panathinaikos win.
Milan made 5 of its first 8 three-pointers and then connected on just 4-of-25 (16.0%) the rest of the way. Panathinaikos also gave up 24 points off its turnovers or second-chance points in the first half. Milan finished with 32 in the game.
Panathinaikos still has two games to play and will travel to Lithuania for its penultimate game against Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday, April 8. Milan will travel back home for its final regular-season game and welcome Anadolu Efes Istanbul the next day in a game that could have a major impact on home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Thursday, April 1, 2021