Panathinaikos bounced back from a rare home loss by thrashing SLUC Nancy 83-69 at OAKA to clinch a berth in the Top 16. Panathinaikos swept the season series with Nancy improving to 6-2 and moving into a tie for second place with the loser of Wednesday's late game between Regal FC Barcelona and Montepaschi Siena. The Greens visits Montepaschi in their next game, which is after the winter break. Meanwhile Nancy fell to 2-6 and watch on Thursday as Asseco Prokom visits Zalgiris to see where its Top 16 chances stand. The French champs kept it close well into the second period until Dimitris Diamantidis led an 11-0 Panathinaikos run that set up a 39-27 halftime lead. Nancy did not fold and continued to fight to stay in the game, but never got closer than 8 the rest of the way. Stratos Perperoglou led Panathinaikos with 16 points and 8 rebounds – both Euroleague career highs. Diamantidis added 12 points, Kostas Tsartsaris had 11 and Mike Batiste finished with 10 points for the winners. Ricardo Greer scored 21 to lead Nancy, Lamayne Wilson added 14 and Victor Samnick and John Cox netted 11 apiece.
In front of a surprisingly quiet crowd, Panathinaikos came out rather lackluster on both ends and Wilson took advantage to give the visitors a 2-5 lead. However with Sarunas Jacikevicius navigating the ship, it wasn’t long before the hosts found some rhythm offensively. Saras handed out a couple of assists and Perperoglou scored from inside and beyond the arc to give Panathinaikos an 11-7 lead. The Greens remained rather lethargic on defense, but Nancy was unable to punish them as the guests continued to misfire. Eventually Samnick found some space in the paint to cut the deficit to 13-11, only to be bettered by Perperoglou who buried a triple to stir the crowd. Still, Panathinaikos was turnover-prone – having committed 7 turnovers already – and Nancy managed to stay close as Michel Morandais scored to make it 17-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Tsartsaris sank a free throw, but Ricardo Greer responded with a smooth lob as the tempo picked up in the second period. Drew Nicholas finally knocked down a triple after 3 failed attempts, but Cox copied him and then Wilson stole the ball from Diamantidis to give Nancy its first lead, 21-22. After a Panathinaikos timeout, Diamantidis took revenge with a pair of three-pointers and an assist to Antonis Fotsis in a 9-0 run. Nancy could not break the ice on offense and at the other end Batiste's spin-move to the basket and dunk with authority forged a double-digit advantage, 32-22. The guests were held to 10-out of-30 shooting until Cox fired in a triple to score Nancy's first basket after more than four minutes. After Fotsis failed to connect on a three-pointer, Samnick pulled Nancy within 32-27. However Panathinaikos had four players score in 7-0 run to build a 39-27 lead at intermission.
The second half commenced with Fotsis scoring in transition, but Ricardo Greer calmly sank back-to-back triples to slice the margin to single-digits, 42-33. That apparently annoyed Jasikevicius, who took over the game with 5 points and a no-look assist to build back a 49-34 margin. However the hosts were unable to put the game away and Nancy continued to try to claw its way back. Samnick scored to bring the guests within 49-38 and a few possessions Cox unleashed his third triple to cut the led to 55-46. However, despite a jaw-dropping one-handed dunk by Wilson, Panathinaikos remained ahead 60-50 with 10 minutes left to play.
The fourth quarter got underway with Dusan Sakota missing an open triple. Jeff Greer grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, but Sakota bounced back with a pair of triples from the corner to give Panathinaikos a 68-54 cushion. Batiste followed Wilson’s triple with two close baskets and soon went to the bench for some recuperation. Youngster Giorgi Shermadini came in to score a free throw and get some cheers from the fans. Wilson knocked down a pretty turn-around jumper and Ricardo Greer nailed a triple to put Nancy within 76-67 with three minutes remaining. The guests were now dominating the offensive boards, however three-point shooting was not their best asset and Panathinaikos was able to hold on for the 83-69 victory.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008