2007-08Regular SeasonRound 10
January 02, 2008 CET: 19:45
Local time: 20:45 O.A.K.A.
Sarunas Jasikevicius - Panathinaikos Panathinaikos mathematically advanced to the Top 16 by holding off a wild rally to edge Partizan Igokea 67-66 in Athens, Greece, in Group C on Wednesday. Panathinaikos improved to 9-1 in Group C and has a five-game lead over its potential opponents for the sixth place with four games to go, enough to seal a Top 16 spot. Meanwhile, Partizan dropped to 4-6. Sarunas Jasikevicius paced the winners with 17 points. Dusan Kecman led Partizan with 22 points on 8-for-9 two-point shooting and 8 rebounds while Nikola Pekovic posted yet another double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the guests. Despite being outrebounded 23-46 tonight, Panathinaikos controlled the game for 34 minutes, as a basket by Nikos Hatzivrettas gave the Greens a 59-45 lead with less than seven minutes to go. Pekovic and Uros Tripkovic fueled the guests' comeback, and a driving layup by Milt Palacio got Partizan within 67-66. Kecman collected a steal that gave Partizan the chance to win the game with 2.4 seconds remaining, but Pekovic could not score in the game's final possession.

In front of its noisy home crowd, Panathinaikos was the first to leave the holiday break behind. The Greens went scoreless for almost three minutes, but a three-point play by Mike Batiste ignited a 10-0 run in which Kostas Tsartsaris had 4 points, including a basket that gave Panathinaikos a 10-2 margin. Partizan had gone 1-for-8 from the field so far, which led coach Dusko Vujosevic to call a much-needed timeout. The guests found a go-to guy in Pekovic, who had started to dominate the boards with 7 rebounds in as many minutes. Pekovic also started to be effective in offense, while a free throw by Slavko Vranes and a basket by Cedomir Vitkovac got the guests within 14-13, forcing Panathinaikos to call timeout. Both teams opted now for a 2-3 zone defense, as free throws by Dimitris Diamantidis and a final basket by Kecman fixed the score at 16-15 at the end of a first quarter marked by both teams' constant trips to the foul line.

Dusan Kecman - Partizan IgokeaBoth Panathinaikos and Partizan traded missed shots and turnovers early in the second quarter until Batiste stepped up with a wild two-handed dunk to get the scoreboard rolling after 3:34 with no points. Partizan kept misfiring badly and struggled to score, while Vassilis Spanoulis took over with two impressive assists and a free throw that allowed Panathinaikos to get 24-15 lead. After a much-needed Partizan timeout, the guests finally scored their first basket in the second quarter – a catch-and-shoot triple by Kecman with three minutes to go. Even with that, Jasikevicius stepped up with back-to-back mid-range jumpers to keep the Greens fully in charge. Partizan did not surrender and soon Kecman ignited a 0-7 run that got the guests back in the game at 29-26. Fragiskos Alvertis answered with free throws but then Petar Bozic bettered that with a triple. Jasikevicius added more foul shots to give Panathinaikos a 33-29 halftime lead.

Panathinaikos rolled after the break, as Diamantidis fired in one from beyond the arc and Alvertis copied him soon after that to give the Greens a 39-31 margin. Kennedy Winston took over, as he collected a steal, drew an unsportsmanlike foul and soon scored again on an alley-oop layup to make it a 12-point game after a 10-2 run. Pekovic tried to change things with a monster dunk, but a basket by Sani Becirovic and a three-pointer by Winston boosted the hosts' lead to 48-33 midway through the third quarter. Partizan soon got back in track, as the guests improved their defense to get back in the game. Palacio and Kecman fueled Partizan's comeback to get the guests within single digits, 50-41. Coach Zeljko Obradovic pulled an ace out of his sleeve, asking Demos Dikoudis to come off the bench and provide some instant offense. Dikoudis immediately delivered with a layup-plus-foul that allowed Panathinaikos to get a 55-43 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Mike Batiste - PanathinaikosPartizan had made just 3 of 16 three-pointers in the opening three quarters, so it looked like Partizan would have it hard to rally in the fourth period. A basket by Nikos Hatzivrettas kept Panathinaikos way ahead, 59-45, with seven minutes to go. Partizan improved its defense right when it mattered, not allowing Panathinaikos to find easy shots. Meanwhile, a three-point play by Pekovic ignited the guests' comeback while Tripkovic added 7 consecutive points to bring Partizan back in the game, 61-59, as all Panathinaikos fans at OAKA could not believe their eyes. Jasikevicius stepped up with a critical triple and even when Kecman scored in the other end, Saras answered with a driving layup for a 66-61 Panathinaikos edge. Pekovic was all over the place in the paint, dominating the boards and giving Partizan vital second-chance options. Palacio hit a free throw to cut the Greens' lead to 66-64. Spanoulis hit a free throw and Partizan had 18 seconds to send the game to overtime. Palacio shined with a driving layup and then Kecman forced Jasikevicius to commit a turnover, giving Partizan the chance to seal its comeback. Pekovic failed to finish the alley-oop pass from Palacio with 2.4 seconds remaining, allowing Panathinaikos to escape with a hard-fought win.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Danos Tsakalos, Athens
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Referees: JUNGEBRAND, CARL (FIN), HIERREZUELO, DANIEL (ESP), PATERNICO, CARMELO (ITA)
Attendance: 9500
By Quarter1234
Panathinaikos16172212
Partizan Igokea15141423
End of Quarter1234
Panathinaikos16335567
Partizan Igokea15294366
Panathinaikos
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 ALVERTIS, FRAGISKOS 9:26 8 1/1 1/2 3/5         1 1 1   1 2 7
5 PERPEROGLOU, STRATOS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6 SPANOULIS, VASSILIS 27:41 3 0/3 0/3 3/6       3 1 2   1 2 6 -1
7 BECIROVIC, SANI 14:41 9 1/3 1/1 4/4           1       3 9
8 BATISTE, MIKE 25:22 7 2/5   3/3   6 6   1 1     3 4 11
9 ZIZIC, ANDRIJA 2:33   0/1                     3   -4
10 HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS 7:50 2 1/1 0/1           1           2
11 DIKOUDIS, DIMOS 19:59 7 2/4 0/1 3/5 1 2 3     1   1 4 4 3
12 TSARTSARIS, KOSTAS 11:22 4 1/2 0/1 2/2   3 3       1   1 2 7
13 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS 24:46 5 0/2 1/3 2/2   3 3 4 1   1   1 1 10
14 WINSTON, KENNEDY 25:16 5 1/3 1/3 0/2 1 4 5 1 3       1 3 10
19 JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS 31:04 17 5/9 1/2 4/4   1 1   2 2     3 4 14
Team             2 2               2
Totals 200:00 67 14/34 5/17 24/33 2 21 23 8 10 8 3 2 19 29 70
        41.2% 29.4% 72.7%
Head coach: OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Partizan Igokea
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 PALACIO, MILT 27:14 7 2/6 0/2 3/4   3 3 1 1 5   2 3 4 -1
5 TEPIC, MILENKO 23:51   0/2 0/5   1 1 2 1   3     3   -10
6 RIZNIC, BOGDAN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 KECMAN, DUSAN 36:24 22 8/9 2/4   1 7 8   2 2     3 2 26
10 BOROVNJAK, DEJAN 15:20 4 2/3     1 2 3 1 1 2     3   3
11 TRIPKOVIC, UROS 21:35 7 2/5 1/6   1 1 2 1   3   1 5   -7
14 PEKOVIC, NIKOLA 30:45 15 6/12   3/3 5 8 13 2 1 1     3 7 28
15 VITKOVAC, CEDOMIR 21:10 4 2/4 0/1   1 8 9 1   4 1   2 3 9
17 DJURKOVIC, MARKO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
20 BOZIC, PETAR 8:06 4   1/2 1/2       1         3 2 2
21 MILOSEVIC, STRAHINJA 6:20 2 1/1                     3   -1
33 VRANES, SLAVKO 9:15 1 0/1   1/2 1 2 3       1   1 1 3
Team             3 3               3
Totals 200:00 66 23/43 4/20 8/11 11 35 46 8 5 20 2 3 29 19 55
        53.5% 20% 72.7%
Head coach: VUJOSEVIC, DUSKO

Head Coaches

OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
"It was a hard game. We were prepared, but early in the game we seemed to be in a rush. Our defense was not bad, however due to offensive rebounds we allowed Partizan to score a lot of easy points. In the second half we played much better. For 15 minutes, that is. We stole a lot of balls, we moved the ball effectively against the zone defense and we managed to build a double-digit lead. Still, then we lost our concentration and gave Partizan the chance to rally back. They showed character and one incredible statistic is that they grabbed almost double rebounds than we did. This is a problem that we face very often, even when we play against teams with not so big guys. Now, it's the time to practice very hard. For we have the quality, but that's not enough. We should stay focused and play 100% in each game. Finally, I want to thank our fans. Once again they created a fantastic atmosphere."
VUJOSEVIC, DUSKO
Partizan Igokea
"Congratulations to Panathinaikos for the win. I think that the spectators had the opportunity to enjoy an interesting game. I'm satisfied with how my team played against Panathinaikos. The number of rebounds shows that today my players fought hard. The problem is that, again, we committed many turnovers. If we want to qualify for the Top 16, we should improve this part of our game. Panathinaikos is the champion of Europe and the fact that we came close to win both games against them says a lot. I wish you all a happy New Year."

Players

WINSTON, KENNEDY
Panathinaikos
"It was a tough game. They didn't give up. They kept fighting and they made it a very close game. They could have beaten us, but luckily we got the win. They are the best rebounding team in the league. We knew they were coming in, so we just tried to control them but, you know, that's what they do best."
BECIROVIC, SANI
Panathinaikos
"We knew it was going to be a very difficult game, because Partizan is a young team that never gives up. We wanted to win, but we didn't have rhythm offensively. At the end, the most important thing is the win, however now we should work hard and try to find our rhythm."
TEPIC, MILENKO
Partizan Igokea
"It was a hard game. We played against the Euroleague Champion. Maybe they are not in their best shape, yet they are undefeated at home. This shows how much quality they have. We tried to do our best and we lost the game in the last possession. Perhaps it was a matter of experience, but I hope that we'll score the last shot in some other game and that we'll qualify to the next phase. Regarding my performance, I did not play well. I hope that I'll play better in the future. There are a lot of games remaining, so many chances to show the best of me."
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