Panathianikos of Athens remains atop Group C, and hold the best record in the Euroleague, following a comeback 77-79 victory at Skipper Bologna on Thursday. The Greens are now 7-1, the only team with a single loss after Kinder Bologna lost in a Group B game at Zalgiris on Thursday. Again, Dejan Bodiroga was the leader for Panathainaikos with 24 points. Damir Mulaomerovic added 12 for the winners and captain Fragiskos Alvertis scored all 9 of his points in the fourth quarter, as the visitors made up a five-point deficit. Gregor Fucka led Skipper with 14, well below his average, while Gianluca Basile added 11 and Vasco Evtimov 10. The loss puts Skipper in hot water at 3-5, tied for fifth place in the group with Krka Novo Mesto.
Skipper came out with defense on its mind and allowed no baskets from the field to their guests in the first 3 minutes, 40 seconds. Meneghin led the way to first important lead of the game, 8-1 for Skipper, but it didn't take much longer for Bodiroga to get into the groove. When he did, Panathinakos came all the way back into the game to tie 16-16 with a triple from Bodiroga. To erase the bad taste of that for Skipper, new point guard Anthony Goldwire answered in kind from beyond the arc for a new lead, 19-16. Mulaomerovic would put Panathinaikos ahead before Meneghin finished the quarter at the line for Skipper's 22-21 lead.
Gregor Fucka stepped to the fore in the early second quarter, sending his team to a seven-point lead at 30-23, but Darryl Middleton seized some ground in the paint to draw the Greens back within 34-31. Under Goldwire's baton, Skipper forced the speed of the game, and boxing out was one of the keys of the first half. Skipper lead by five, 40-35, thanks to Fucka's one-on-one move. Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic tried a zone defense, but Skipper kept pulling offensive rebounds. Mulaomerovic scored with 4 seconds left to cut the deficit to four, but in a week of buzzer-beaters, Gianluca Basile sank his from halfcourt to put Skipper back up by seven, 46-39, at the break.
After the half, Mulaomerovic sank a triple in his former arena, and Panathinaikos made a mini-run of 5-0 thanks also to Pepe Sanchez. But Corey Albano was called for a flagrant foul and suddenly Obradovic a technical foul after a turnover. Skipper exploited only two free throws of a potential seven points, and Sanchez pulled the Greens within a shot at 57-54. Fucka posted up Middleton and Meneghin buried a triple, but Bodiroga got 2 back for the guests, down 62-57 after 30 minutes
Skipper tried to give the final hit, but two unbelievable mistakes by Marko Milic and Zoran Savic gave Pana the chance to get back the game. Two triples, by Fragiskos Alvertis and Sanchez, changed the scoreboard to 65-64 with 6 minutes left. There it stood for two minutes, and by the time the final one rolled around, Panathinaikos was ahead 70-73. Basile tied it with a three pointer, but Bodiroga was perfect twice from the line. Now Basile's hands were frightened and one free throw of two rimmed out. Bodiroga gave the three-point lead (76-79), Goldwire was fouled with 3 seconds to go and missed 1 of 2 freebies. Fucka and Vasco Evtimov argued for the board but it finally fell to Sanchez and Panathinakos won again.
Thursday, December 13, 2001