held off a valiant Partizan effort to become the only unbeaten team in
the Euroleague after six games with a 65-73 win at a sold-out Pionir
Arena in Belgrade, Serbia on Wednesday. Panathinaikos improved to 6-0
in the Group B standings and is two games ahead of everyone else, while
Partizan dropped to 3-3, losing its first home game of the season. Mike
Batiste led the winners with a double-double of 15 points and 11
rebounds. Dimitris Diamantidis and Nikos Hatzivrettas each added 12
points while Sani Becirovic had 11 off the bench for Panathinaikos.
Predrag Drobnjak had 17 points for Partizan while Uros Tripkovic added
14 for the hosts. Drobnjak and Tripkovic led Partizan throughout the
first half and allowed Partizan to reach the break with a 34-30 edge.
Batiste led the Greens in the second half, which saw six lead changes
before Drobnjak gave Partizan its last lead at 61-60. Batiste hit a
critical three-pointer down the stretch, while Hatzivrettas made 6 free
throws in the final 2 minutes to seal yet another Panathinaikos win.
coach Zeljko Obradovic surprised everyone by placing Dusan Sakota in
the starting five for the first time this season. Partizan shined early
on defense, with Drobnjak rejecting Batiste twice. Kosta Perovic scored
in the paint, but Batiste erased it with a mid-range jumper. Tripkovic
buried a six-meter shot, which Drobnjak followed with a layup for a 6-2
Partizan lead. Diamantidis and Hatzivrettas stepped up with
back-to-back triples to give the Greens their first lead at 6-8.
Drobnjak scored again but Kostas Tsartsaris matched it with a
left-handed jump hook. Hatzivrettas came through with an off-balanced
jumper, but Drobnjak answered with a dunk to bring the hosts within
10-12. Tsartsaris replied from three-point range, while Hatzivrettas
hit a free throw for a 12-16 margin. Novica Velickovic scored another
layup before free throws from Dimos Dikoudis, Dusan Kecman and
Diamantidis fixed the score at 16-19 after 10 minutes.
fed Tripkovic for a driving layup early in the second quarter as
Partizan kept its momentum going on defense. Kecman scored in
penetration, while a red-hot Tripkovic added a triple from the corner
to send the lead back to Partizan, 23-19. Robertas Javtokas stepped up
with a power layup and Nikola Pekovic and Dikoudis exchanged free
throws for a 25-23 score. Luka Bogdanovic found space for an easy
layup, causing Panathinaikos to call timeout to fix its offense.
Dikoudis tried to change things with a close basket, which Milenko
Tepic erased with a driving layup. Becirovic beat Partizan's zone
defense with a mid-range jumper, but the Greens kept struggling to
score. Drobnjak fired in a triple from the top of the key and even when
Becirovic scored again, Tepic hit free throws to keep Partizan ahead at
34-29. A free throw from Becirovic brought the Greens within 34-30 at
Tony Delk scored his first basket right after the
break, but Perovic erased it with free throws. Batiste also made foul
shots, while Tsartsaris dunked it to tie the game at 36-36. Partizan
had been scoreless for 3 minutes until Perovic hit a short jumper,
which Drobnjak followed with a layup for a 40-36 edge. Tripkovic scored
in transition and even when Batiste dunked it, Perovic answered with a
layup to put Partizan ahead by 6. The Greens did not panic however, as
Batiste scored inside and Diamantidis hit one from downtown to force a
Partizan timeout at 44-43. Becirovic capped a 0-7 run with a layup,
which put Panathinaikos back ahead, 44-45. Velickovic and Tsartsaris
hit free throws, while Batiste banked in a turnaround jumper to give
the Greens a 4-point edge. Drobnjak continued to pace Partizan and
Bogdanovic added a tip-in, which tied it at 49-49. Free throws by
Diamantidis allowed Panathinaikos to keep a 49-51 edge after three
Panathinaikos started the fourth quarter with a zone
defense, which Tepic punished with a three-pointer. Former regular
season scoring champion Milos Vujanic matched it with a three-point
play and then added one from downtown for a 52-56 Panathinaikos lead.
Tripkovic shined with a driving layup while Vonteego Cummings hit free
throws to tie it again at 56-56 with 7 minutes to go. Becirovic banked
in a short jumper, but Tripkovic bettered it with a three-point play,
good for a 59-58 Partizan edge. Batiste kept pacing the Greens with
free throws, but Drobnjak scored again for another lead change, 61-60.
Becirovic made more foul shots while Batiste fired in a huge triple
from the top of the key, causing Partizan to call timeout at 61-65.
Partizan struggled to score in crunch time, while Diamantidis shined
with a high-flying tip-in, which allowed the Greens to go up 61-67 with
less than 2 minutes to go. Drobnjak scored inside, but it was too
little, too late for the hosts. Hatzivrettas made free throws to seal
the outcome, as Panathinaikos became the only undefeated team in the
Wednesday, November 29, 2006