Real puts one foot in the playoffs
Real Madrid put one foot in the playoffs by outgunning Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 96-77 in a special Monday night opener to Round 26 in the Spanish capital. Real raised its record to 20-6 and will qualify for the playoffs before this round ends if one of Valencia Basket, AX Armani Exchange Milan or Khimki Moscow Region lose later this week. Panathinaikos dropped to 14-12 but will retain its sixth-place standing. Real led 40-26 midway through the second quarter before Panathinaikos pulled within 3 points several times in the second half, but the hosts just kept piling up points to ensure victory, outscoring the Greens 23-13 in the fourth quarter. Walter Tavares led the winners with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, with Facundo Campazzo getting his own of 14 points and 10 assists. There were two of seven double-digit scorers for Real. Gabriel Deck added 13 points, Jaycee Carroll 12, Rudy Fernandez 11 and Trey Thompkins 11 each, and Nicolas Laprovittola 10. Panathinaikos got 13 points from Nick Calathes, while DeShaun Thomas, Ioannis Papapetrou and Jimmer Fredette scored 11 each.
Calathes hit a triple and fed Georgios Papagiannis for a 3-5 Panathinaikos lead, but Tavares, Usman Garuba, Campazzo, with a pair of triples, and Deck reeled off the next 12 points to make it 15-5. Ian Vougoukas stopped the bleeding and soon the Greens were within 23-16 on a triple by Andy Rautins and a dunk by Papagiannis. Free throws gave Real a 27-16 lead after 10 minutes. Rautins hit another triple and Thomas dropped layup in a 2-8 Panathinaikos run to within 29-24 early in the second quarter. Fernandez hit 2 triples and Carroll another to extend Real's lead again to 38-26. Papapetrou scored twice inside while Thomas and Calathes drilled triples for the Greens at 43-38. Carroll scored 5 points in a row for Real before Papapetrou answered from deep for a 48-41 halftime score. Fredette's triple and free throws cut the difference to 51-48 right after the break. Despite a three-point play by Tavares, when Calathes hit his third triple of the game, it was 58-55. Felipe Reyes and Trey Thompkins came off Real's bench for 4 points each, but Tyrese Rice hit from the arc and Ben Bentil downed free throws at 68-65. However, that's when Fernandez pour in 5 points give Real a 73-65 margin after 30 minutes. After Thompkins scored down low, Campazzo drilled a huge three-pointer to return the lead to double-digits, 78-67. Thompkins kept it going with a turnaround jumper inside and a three-pointer to suddenly boost the lead to 83-69. The hosts just kept extending the difference from there to make what had been a close game look like a blowout at the end.
Pivotal performer I
Panathinaikos had no answer for Walter Tavares, who didn't miss any field goals on his way to 15 points, added 10 rebounds and drew 6 fouls for a PIR of 30, the second-best total of his career. Tavares also held his counterpart, Georgios Papagiannis, to 6 points. Both players stand 2.20 meters tall.
Pivotal performer II
Facundo Campazzo outdueled assists leader Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos by dishing 10 of his own on Monday. Campazzo had everything to do with Real putting seven different scorers in double figures. He also tied his EuroLeague high by making 4 three-pointers among his 14 points.
The victory was Real's 10th in a row over Panathinaikos, going back to Game 2 of the 2017-18 playoffs, after which the Spaniards went on to win the EuroLeague title. Panathinaikos has not won in the Spanish capital since March 21, 2013.
Did you notice?
Real had 8-for-14 free throw shooting shortly after halftime, but proceeded to make 16 of 16 from that point to quash any thoughts of a Panathinaikos comeback.
When he climbed off the bench with 6:07 left in the third quarter, Real big man Felipe Reyes made his 350th appearance in a EuroLeague game, a first for any player. Reyes, who turns 40 in mid-March and is one of only two players who played in the EuroLeague's inaugural season back in 2000-01, leads the competition in career games played.
Both teams get extra days off due to their early tipoff this week. When they return for Round 27, Real will do so with a visit to AX Armani Exchange Milan on Tuesday, March 3, the same night that Panathinaikos takes on its archrival, Olympiacos Piraeus, on the road.
Monday, February 24, 2020