Real Madrid needed overtime and the inspiration of star guard Louis Bullock to down Euroleague defending champion Panathinaikos 95-87 and become a top-seeded team in the Top 16 Draw in front of 15,000 fans in the Spanish capital on Thursday night. Madrid improved to 11-3 and became the best first-ranked team in the competition, enough to avoid group champions Panathinaikos, CSKA Moscow and Lietuvos Rytas in the Top 16 Draw. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos dropped to 12-2 but had already clinched first place in this group. Bullock became the game hero by firing in three consecutive bombs from downtown in the final 90 seconds to seal the outcome late in the extra period. He led the winners with 22 points on 8-for-8 free throws. Raul Lopez and Lazaros Papadopoulos each added 14. Alex Mumbru had 12 while Felipe Reyes got 10 for Madrid. Vassilis Spanoulis led Panathinaikos with 22 points. Mike Batiste added 16, Sarunas Jasikevicius had 13 while Nikos Hatzivrettas and Sani Becirovic each got 10 points for the Greens, that rallied from a double-digit margin to get a 80-81 with a minute to go. A triple by Lopez and a tip-in by Batiste sent the game to overtime, as Mumbru missed free throws with 3.6 seconds to go in regulation. Bullock simply took over in the extra period to make Madrid the best second-ranked team in the competition.
Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic shocked everyone by placing Stratos Perperoglou in the starting five. Demos Dikoudis got the Greens going with a three-point play, as the game turned into a physical battle already. Papadopoulos scored inside while Axel Hervelle added a reverse layup for a 4-3 Madrid lead. Kerem Tunceri fired in a triple that capped a 7-0 Madrid lead, but Becirovic shined with an acrobatic layup that Dimitris Diamantidis added a running triple to put Panathinaikos back ahead, 7-8. Papadopoulos kept pacing Madrid with free throws and a left-handed jump hook and even when Batiste answered with a dunk, Mumbru took over with a running jumper for a 13-10 Madrid lead. Hervelle sank his first three-pointer while Bullock added his trademark bomb from downtown to make the Greens call timeout at 19-10, after a 10-0 run. Spanoulis stepped up with a driving layup, Diamantidis added an incredible tip-in and by the time Hatzivrettas stroke from beyond the arc, the Greens were within 20-17. Spanoulis tied the game with a layup-plus-foul but Mumbru provided a highlight with a huge dunk. A mid-range jumper by Dikoudis and a layup by Spanoulis gave Panathinaikos a 22-24 edge after 10 minutes.
Lopez nailed a three-pointer right at the start of the second quarter and fed Charles Smith for a power layup, good for a 27-24 Madrid lead. Batiste followed a free throw with a fast break layup but Reyes found his first points on a floating layup to put the hosts back ahead, 29-27. The Greens kept working hard in defense, however, while another three-point play by Spanoulis tied it at 30-30. Lopez fed Smith for an alleyoop dunk but Jasikevicius answered from downtown for a 32-33 Panathinaikos edge. Reyes sank an off-balanced fadeaway jumper that Jasikevicius and Batiste bettered with foul shots. Both teams had entered the foul bonus and went to the free throw line often. Foul shots by Bullock tied it again at 37-37. Coach Obradovic tried a small lineup with Hatzivrettas at power forward. Jasikevicius took over with a three-point play but more foul shots by Papadopoulos, Mumbru and Tunceri gave Madrid a 47-40 edge, after a 8-0 run. Bullock sank free throws that Batiste erased with a turnaround jumper. More foul shots by Bullock gave Madrid a double-digit margin, 53-43, at halftime.
Madrid started to miss east shot after the break, as Lopez even did it around the basket. Meanwhile, Becirovic hit free throws to get the Greens within 51-43. Hervelle answered from downtown but Hatzivrettas did the same in the other end. Becirovic joined the three-point shootout to bring Panathinaikos back to life, 56-51. Both teams turned the game into an outstanding physical battle, with hard fouls and intensity at both ends. Mumbru and Spanoulis traded free throws while Papadopoulos did the same for a 60-53 Madrid lead. Niksa Prkacin scored his first Panathinaikos points from the free throw line that Lopez erased with a backdoor layup. Prkacin insisted with more foul shots and Spanoulis added a driving basket while Mumbru got the crowd involved with an alleyoop layup. Smith fed Bullock for an easy basket, as Panathinaikos lost control in offense, trying too many off-balanced shots. Reyes scored again in the low post but Spanoulis sank one from downtown to get the Greens within 68-62. Smith buried one from downtown but Hatzivrettas beat the buzzer with a driving layup to fix the score at 71-64 after 30 minutes.
Both teams traded turnovers early in the fourth quarter, as both teams faced the game as a do-or-die one. Jasikevicius sank a five-meter shot, as Madrid had been scoreless and committed 3 turnovers in as many minutes in this period. Jasikevicius had Zisis for a layup that Reyes erased with a tip-in for a 73-68 Madrid lead. Hatzivrettas kept pacing the Greens with a long two-pointer that Papadopoulos erased with free throws. Spanoulis beat the shot clock with a critical basket but Lopez fired in a three-pointer in fron tof Jasikevicius for a 78-72 Madrid lead with 2 minutes to go. Jasikevicius nailed his trademark triple from the top of the key but Bullock scored in a one-on-one situation to keep Madrid ahead, 80-75. Batiste sank a mid-range jumper and soon added free throws for a 70-69 Panathinaikos deficit with 1:50 remaining. Madris struggled to score right when it needed it most while another driving layup by Spanoulis completed the Greens' comeback, 80-81, with a minute to go. Lopez buried a key three-pointer with 49.5 seconds remaining. Becirovic and Jasikevicius missed from downtown but Batiste's tip-in tied it at 83-83 with 25.3 ticks to go. Mumbru drew a foul and missed free throws with 4.2 seconds to go. Panathinaikos had a final chance to win the game at the end of regulation but Batiste missed a seven-meter shot.
Lopez fired in one from downtown right at the start of the extra period. Becirovic made 1-for-2 free throw and soon added a put-back layup to tie the game at 86-86. Spanoulis was next to the foul line, and made just 1-for-2 free throws for a 86-87 Panathinaikos edge with less than 2 minutes to go. Bullock took over with an incredible corner triple. Reyes had a big block on Becirovic that allowed Bullock to sink another three-pointer, this time from the opposite corner. Panathinaikos struggled to score, while a red hot Bullock buried his third triple in less than 50 seconds, enough for a sellout crowd at Vistalegre to sing his name as Madrid left the court as a top-seeded team in the Top 16 draw.
Thursday, January 31, 2008