The fans at Olympic Indoor Hall in Athens welcomed back an old friend as Panathinaikos captain Fragiskos Alvertis sparked a third-quarter takeover on the way to a 103-89 victory against visiting Pau-Orthez to help the Greens close the first half of the regular season in Group C with a winning record. Panathinaikos is now 4-3 and guaranteed a share of second place in the standings, while Pau fell to 2-5 and part of a tie for last place. Alvertis, who had played only a minute before this season due to injury, scored 12 of his 18 points in a 35-22 third quarter that broke the game open. That quarter also featured 3 three-pointers made by Vlado Scepanovic, who finished with 11 points. Four other Greens reached double digits, also, led by Jaka Lakovic with 20 points, Mike Batiste with 16, Dimitris Diamantidis with 12 and Patrick Femerling with 10. T.J. Lux led Pau with 22 points while Mire Chatman added 19, Thierry Rupert 15, Davor Marcelic 13 and Frederic Fauthoux 10.
Panathinaikos know early that it was in for a tough game as Rupert, Marcelic and Chatman put Pau-Orthez up 5-6. Whe the visitors started missing, however, the Greens were able to take an 11-8 advantage on a jumper by Diamantidis. Rupert tied it on a three-point play to signal that Pau wasn't going to shrink. While Chatman was struggling against some hard defense by Diamantidis, Marcelic tied again for the guests at 14-14 and Frederic Fauthous at 17-17, with Pau's first triple. After Hatzivrettas broke the tie with a shot from downtown, Pau big man T.J. Lux settled the matter with 5 points in a quarter-closing 0-7 run that seized a 20-24 lead for the visitors.
In the second period, Marcelic and Chatman fired from downtown to preserve Pau's lead at 24-30, but Panathinaikos bided its time well until Lakovic sparked a 6-0 run to a 32-32 tie on a layup by Patrick Femerling. After a basket by Lux, the Greens took a new lead when Alvertis buried a three-pointer. Femerling at the foul line and Diamantidis from the arc finished off a 16-4 run that seemingly left the Greens in charge at 40-34. Chatman didn't let the half end that way, however. His 4 points in a 0-6 run to finish the second quarter, including an acrobatic jumper at the buzzer, let Pau tie it up 42-42 in time for the break.
The third quarter was Alvertis time from the start, when his basket-plus-foul put the Greens ahead, but Pau proved a hard team to shake. Fauthoux tied with another triple, as did Johan Petro with a dunk and Rupert with a jumper to make it 49-49. Alvertis was not to be denied, however. He poured in the next 7 points for Panathinaikos in a 9-3 run that forged a 58-52 lead for the hosts. Scepanovic took over the middle of the quarter with a trio of triples that gave the Greens a double-digit lead at 71-59. Alvertis, Diamantidis and Lakovic added 2 points each at the end to put Panathinaikos comfortably ahead, 77-64, after 30 minutes.
Lux was the only player funcioning well on offense for Pau, but his 6 points early in the final quarter could not make a dent in the difference. That's because Lakovic and Alvertis were busy draining three-pointers again, while Mike Batiste scored twice inside to boost the Panathinaikos lead to 87-70. The points parade could not be stopped now. Chatman, Lux and Fauthoux fired away, but Pau never got closer than 11 points, 94-83, because Batiste put on his personal show, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the last ten minutes. That included a slam dunk that made it 101-83 and one more noisy dunk some seconds later that caused a roar in the Olympic Indoor Hall.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Kostas Sotiriou, Athens