Lottomatica Roma handed defending Euroleague champion Panathinaikos its first loss of the season, 85-67, in the Italian capital on Thursday night. The hosts went on a decisive 17-0 run at the start of the third quarter to take a 65-50 lead, which they never relinquished. The win saw Roma improve to 2-6 and keeps its hopes of reaching the Top 16 alive, while Panathinaikos still has a one-victory lead over Real Madrid atop the Group C standings. Allan Ray was outstanding for the hosts, striking often from long range on his way to a game-high 18 points. Roko-Leni Ukic added 13 points, Gregor Fucka 11 and Erazem Lorbek 10 for the winners. Roma shot 22 for 32 (68.8%) inside the arc, while Panathinaikos was 14 of 31 (45.2%). Sarunas Jasikevicius finished with a team-high 13 points for Panathinaikos and Mike Batiste added 10.
The way the visitors began the contest, everything looked as if it would go according to plan for them. Demos Dikoudis gave scored on a drive and then buried a three-pointer, but Roma hit right back with 7 straight points to claim the lead. Roberto Gabini connected from behind the arc and then Ray scored twice on drives to the basket. It was a first quarter of runs, with the Greens then scoring 9 straight points. Batiste twice scored down low on strong moves, and Panathinaikos appeared to grab the momentum when Jacopo Giachetti lost control of the ball and was hit with an unsportsmanlike foul on Jasikevicius, who made his 2 free throws. Saras then drilled a three-pointer for a 14-7 advantage. Trailing 18-11 after a dunk by Kennedy Winston, Roma battled back as Ray hit from behind the arc and David Hawkins came up with a steal and layup with two minutes to go in the quarter. Dikoudis put his powerful game on display, catching a pass at the free throw line and driving in for a one-handed jam. Fouled on the play, he made the free throw to take the lead back to 23-18, but Ukic spotted Lorbek down low and he scored right before the buzzer as Roma trailed 23-20 at the end of the first quarter.
Ray was sensational in the early going and his three-ball tied the game at the start of the second quarter. Vassilis Spanoulis and Ukic scored with layups for their respective sides and another Ray triple would give Roma a 28-26 lead. Sani Becirovic replied with a three-point play after getting bumped by Fucka, but Roma got wind in its sails after Kostas Tsartsaris was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for wrapping his arm around Jon Stefansson as the Icelandic star was going in for a layup. Stefansson made both free throws and then struck with a three-pointer for a 37-31 lead. Panathinaikos head coach Zeljko Obradovic called a timeout and when play resumed, Becirovic immediately hit a three-pointer to spark a 0-7 run. There would soon be a flurry of threes from both sides. Another Becirovic three gave the Greens a 41-38 lead, and not long after a Giachetti hit from long range to give Roma a 45-43 edge. Tsartsaris connected from the left corner to make it 46-45, but Fucka pulled up and nailed a long one. In the final minute, Roma increased its defensive pressure, but Andrija Zizic scored in traffic aa the game went to halftime knotted at 48-48.
The second half started well for Panathinaikos, with Batiste going up strong for a 50-48 lead, but Roma then hit the visitors with a 17-0 run. After field goals from Hawkins and Giachetti, Fucka scored 6 straight points on moves down low, the last after grabbing an offensive rebound off a miss by Ray. The run continued with Giachetti hitting a three before Hawkins capped it with another basket after a steal by Lorbek. As he always does, Jasikevicius gave his team hope. He made a pair of three-pointers to stop the rot, but an Ukic layup gave the hosts a 68-57 lead heading to the last quarter.
Roberto Gabini scored and Ray added another three-pointer to start the fourth as Roma went back in front by 16. The Greens looked vulnerable and Obradovic called a timeout. Roma missed on its next possession, but chased down the loose ball in the backcourt and rushed it back up the floor where Ray hit a baseline jumper. Zizic scored to end the 7-0 run and Dimitrios Diamantidis added a three, but Gabini answered with a finger roll. Spanoulis nailed a three from the left corner to make it 77-65, but Ukic drove untouched through the lane and restored the 14-point lead. An unsportsmanlike foul on Gabini when Becirovic flopped over after failing to take the ball away from Gabini led to 2 made free throws by Nikos Hatzivrettas, but Panathinaikos wasn’t able to make any inroads into the deficit and the last of the unbeatens fell to a surprise defeat.
Thursday, December 13, 2007