Panathinaikos closes strong to snap losing streak
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens shook off a late challenge from visiting Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul to win 75-67 and break a three-game losing streak on Friday. Panathinaikos moved to 6-6, in a three-way tie for sixth place. Darussafaka fell to 1-11 with its 10th consecutive defeat. Darussafaka rallied to tie the game 65-65 in the final quarter, but a huge put-back by Konstantinos Mitoglou sparked a 10-2 closing run for the Greens. Mitoglou had a career-high 20 points in 21 minutes to pace the winners. James gist added 15 and Keith Langford 12, while Nick Calathes had a double-double of 10 points and 12 assists. Darussafaka got 15 points from Toney Douglas, 11 from Ray McCallum and 10 each from Michael Eric and Markel Brown, but having come back from double-digit deficits, could not finally overcome 18 turnovers.
Mitoglou and Nikos Pappas shared 9 points and Calathes had 4 assists as Panathinaikos jumped ahead 15-6. Five different Darussafaka scorers cut the difference to a basket before Panathinaikos finished the first quarter ahead 22-16. Langford and Stephane Lasme pushed the lead to 26-16 and Gist kept it at 33-24 with a triple and a dunk as the Panathinaikos defense had already forced 9 turnovers. Gist and Langford would combine for 18 second-quarter points as Panathinaikos led 43-32 at halftime. Brown, Douglas and Zanis Peiners quickly lowered the difference to 45-39 for Darussafaka after the break. Pappas took it back to double digits for the hosts, and Mitoglou fired in his second triple at 53-43. But McCallum caught fire and beat the buzzer with a fastbreak dunk as Darussafaka got as close as 57-53 after three quarters. Jon Diebler and Oguz Savas combined on 5 points in a row as Darussafaka cut it to 61-60 early in the fourth. Langford stepped up to calm Panathinaikos with a sleek jumper. Savas fed Jeremy Evans for an open dunk at 65-62, then Douglas drilled a seeing-eye, game-tying triple with 5 minutes left. Mitoglou had a huge play, putting back a blocked shot on a fastbreak by Panathinaikos to restore the lead and that's all the Greens needed to start an 8-0 run and see out the victory.
Konstantinos Mitoglou, all of 22 years old and playing in just his 16th EuroLeague game ever, was Mr. Efficiency for team full of veterans that was desperate to win. He made 6 of 7 two-pointers, his only triple try and 5 of 5 free throws among six career-highs summed up by his performance index rating of 27.
Panathinaikos avoided its first four-game losing streak, without counting playoffs, since 2010. That year they were defending champs but didn't even make the playoffs after dropping the first four games of the Top 16.
Gist celebrates milestones
It wasn't enough for James Gist to become the EuroLeague's 34th player ever to play 200 games, he made sure the milestone was worth celebrating, too. His 9 points and 4 rebounds before halftime were key to his team's double-digit leads. Then he added 2 perfect free throws at 69-65 with under 2 minutes left as the Greens pulled away to win.
Nick Calathes had his fourth game out of 12 this season with double-digit assists, dishing 6 in the first quarter alone on the way to 12 for the game, which matched the entire passing effort of Darussafaka.
Panathinaikos hits the road to play mighty Real Madrid in Round 13, the first game of two in 48 hours next week. Darussafaka returns home for Round 13 to face Zalgiris Kaunas.
Friday, December 14, 2018