Panathinaikos mauled KK Zagreb 62-81
Reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Panathinaikos put on a defensive display as it routed KK Zagreb 62-81 in the latter’s first ever Euroleague home game. The Greens started strong and never let up in bringing their record to 2-0 in Group B. Panathinaikos head coach Zeljko Obradovic was able to split the minutes among his charges as all 12 players in uniform played a minimum of 10 minutes and all but one of them scored. Romain Sato led the way with 13 points, Nick Calathes and Steven Smith tallied 12 apiece, Mike Batiste scored 10 and Euroleague MVP Dimitris Diamantidis quarterbacked them with 8 assists. Sean May did most of the damage for Zagreb with a Euroleague career high 23 points and 9 rebounds. Damir Mulaomerovic, who won the 2002 Euroleague title with the Greens, added 15 points for Zagreb, which dropped to 0-2.
Panathinaikos went inside to Aleks Maric for the game’s first points before Sean May countered for the hosts. Sato scored on the offensive glass and a Diamantidis steal set Nick Calathes up for a layup as the visitors took control early. Sato’s long pass to an open Steven Smith for a powerful two-handed jam caused Zagreb to take a timeout trailing 3-10. Out of the stoppage, Mulaomerovic sank a triple, but free throws by Maric and a pretty pass from Diamantidis to Batiste kept the Greens in total control. A deep two from Dario Saric was cancelled by another easy Diamantidis-to-Batiste score. Zagreb never stopped battling as a triple and later a running bank shot by Krunoslav Simon kept the hosts with 14-18. But a pair of steals in the last minute of the quarter gifted Nick Calathes two layups and then 2 free throws to give the champs a 14-24 cushion.
Batiste used a baby hook to further stretch the lead. Josh Heytvelt stopped Panathinaikos’s 0-8 push and rose up for a big block on defense. Smith and Calethes tacked on more points from the line and Sarunas Jasikevicius got involved too as the lead swelled to 15. Despite Mario Kasun inside and Mulaomerovic behind the arc, Panathinaikos kept piling on its lead. David Logan’s triple made it 19-35, then Sato’s with a minute-and-a-half left in the half took the lead pas the 20-point mark and Diamantidis fed Kostas Tsartsaris inside to cap the second quarter at 22-45 for the visitors.
Halftime seemed to take the tension out of the game as the start of the third quarter featured more turnovers than baskets. In fact it took nearly four full minutes before David Logan scored the first basket of the second half. And another minute passed before Kasun tallied Zagreb’s first score. Another uncontested layup for Nick Calathes and then a free throw after an offensive rebounds by Ian Vougioukas stretched the Greens’ lead to 24-55. Mulaomerovic attacked the rim to get a basket back for Zagreb and Saso Ozbolt drained a triple, but the Panathinaikos lead was never threatened. A Sato jumper with his feet on the three-point stripe made it a 30-point game before May used a pretty finish to end the quarter at 33-61.
May proved Zagreb’s best weapon with free throws and a basket before Damir Rancic made it a 7-0 start to the fourth. Smith connected from behind the arc to make it 43-64. Rancic connected from deep again to inject a little late excitement into the game. Alexandros Kyritsis used a steal to coast in for his first ever Euroleague basket and Diamantidis threw a highlight-reel assist to a soaring Smith for a spectacular alley-oop slam as Panathinaikos stamped its seal on the contest. In the remaining minutes, Mulaomerovic knocked down a three and May added to his totals, but the outcome was never in doubt.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011