If the name Konstantinos Mitoglou was unfamiliar to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague fans outside of Greece until now, it shouldn't be anymore – not after his near-perfect performance for Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in the team's desperately needed 75-67 home win over Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul on Friday.
Yes, this 22-year-old, 2.10-meter power forward debuted with the Greens almost a year ago and has started in eight of 11 games this season. But on Friday he truly arrived – and precisely when Panathinaikos needed him most.
The Greens had lost three games in a row when Mitoglou came out and scored 9 first-quarter points, several on assists from Nick Calathes, to help the home team build comfortable leads. Soon after halftime, he scored to reach 11 points, surpassing his previous career high. And by the end of the quarter he was up to 16 points.
But Mitoglou saved his best for last.
After Darussafaka erased double-digit deficits to tie the game 65-65 with 5 minutes left is when Mitoglou earned his stars. More than 2 scoreless and tense minutes followed in which both teams sought the upper hand. Nikos Pappas then raced for a fastbreak layup that seemed to be the turning point for Panathinaikos – until Jeremy Evans of Darussafaka blocked it, which could have been a game-changer for the visitors.
Despite all the veterans on the floor, it was Mitoglou who was following the play closest. He grabbed the ball off the backboard and put it back in for a 67-65 lead that the Greens would not relinquish.
He finished the game by adding 2 perfect free throws, his last rebound, and a save-and-steal combination that led to Calathes throwing a long baseball pass to Gist for a victory-sealing dunk.
When he was done, Mitoglou had team highs of 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals and he shot as good as you can without being perfect: 6 for 7 on two-pointers, 1 for 1 on threes and 5 for 5 at the foul line.
Remember, this was probably the most important game that Panathinaikos has played all season. And remember the name: Konstantinos Mitoglou.