Panathinaikos steamrolls by Zielona Gora into Top 16!
Panathinaikos Athens soared into the Top 16 and avenged an earlier defeat by blasting Stelmet Zielona Gora 82-51 at home in the Greek capital on Friday. With its third consecutive victory, Panathinaikos raised its Group C record to 5-4, good for a third-place tie with Zalgiris Kaunas, its opponent in the regular season's final game next week. Panathinaikos got 18 points and 7 assists from Nick Calathes, while James Gist scored 14 points and Vladimir Jankovic 10 for the winners. Zielona Gora got 11 from Mateusz Ponitka, all of which he scored in the first quarter.
Zielona Gora, which needed to win to survive, fell to 2-7 and will pass after the new year into the Eurocup Last 32. Panathinaikos broke open a close game after one quarter with a 56-24 run between the start of the second and the middle of the fourth.
First quarter: Greens surge into lead
Gist flew to the rim for a second-chance basket and Ponitka got behind the defense for a dunk to get their teams going. Then, in reverse order, they each downed three-pointers to make it 5-5. Calathes hit the next open shot from the wing for an 8-5 Panathinaikos edge. Ponitka drilled free throws that were answered with a layup by Sasha Pavlovic. Lukasz Koszarek downed free throws to keep Zielona Gora within 10-9. Calathes drove for a layup and Raduljica turned for a layup as Panathinaikos jumped ahead 14-9. Dejan Borovnjak came out of a Zielona Gora timeout and converted a three-point play for the guests. Miroslav Raduljica fed Calathes for a nice reverse that Ponitka matched with free thros at 16-14. Dimitris Diamantidis got the line for his first points, but Koszarek answered with a triple and Ponitka finished a break with a reverse for Zielona Gora's first lead, 18-19. After a Panathinaikos timeout, Jankovic drove for his first basket and a new lead for the hosts. Raduljica added to it with free throws at 22-19. Diamantidis fed Ognjen Kuzmic for a nice layup, but J.R. Reynolds drilled a fastbreak triple to keep it close. Diamantidis found Jankovic for a back-door layup before Adam Hrycaniuk hit a free throws for the visitors to end the first quarter 26-23.
Second quarter: Calathes, Gist push Greens higher
James Feldeine joined the Panathinaikos scorers from the arc for a high lead of 29-23 to open the second quarter. Koszarek answered with a smart layup, but Feldeine was back with a one-hander from the lane, to which Gist added free throws to make it 33-25. Gist then made a steal and Calathes went coast to coast for the first double-digit lead, 35-25. Out of a Zielona Gora timeout, Dee Bost fed Szewczyk for two back-door baskets, the second a reverse, to make it 35-29. Kuzmic downed a basket inside, then Calathes hit a free throw and lobbed to Gist for a beautiful alley-oop dunk. And when Diamantidis found Kuzmic for his second basket in succession, it was 42-29. A technical foul on Diamantidis led to free throw by Koszarek, but Calathes came out of a timeout and buried a triple at 45-20. Przemyslaw Zamojski answered from the corner before Diamantidis fed Fotsis underneath to give the hosts a 47-33 halftime edge.
Third quarter: Greens pour it on
Calathes picked up where he had left off, burying a triple to start the second half. Hrycaniuk responded with an inside bucket but the Greens kept pouring it on with layups by Gist and Calathes. Then Raduljica fed Gist for a dunk and Calathes hit Jankovic for a layup and a commanding 58-35 advantage. Bost's 5 points for Zielona Gora were answered by a three-pointer from Jankovic and stop-and-pop jumper by Feldeine at 64-40. J.R. Reynolds found a triple for the guests, but Panathinaikos stayed safely in front 67-47 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Panathinaikos slams the door
Raduljica spun for a hook shot and Antonis Fotsis fired in a triple from the corner as the Panathinaikos lead climbed to 72-47 at the start of the fourth quarter. Out of Zielona Gora timeout, Diamantidis curled for a layup and Fotsis struck again from downtown making it a 30-point advantage, 77-47. The lead was up to 81-47 before Zielona Gora finally got its first points of the final quarter - a fastbreak layup by Szewczyk - after almost 7 scoreless minutes. But by then the Greens had done their job on both ends and taken the high road into the Top 16.
Friday, December 11, 2015