Bouncing back from one of its worst Euroleague losses ever, Panathinaikos Athens overcame pesky SLUC Nancy with a 70-80 road victory in Group B on Wednesday. Panathinaikos lifted its record to 2-1, good for what will be a three-way tie for second place. The French champions from Nancy fell to 0-3. Pao's big men dominated inside the entire game, as the Greens grabbed an impressive 19 offensive boards while outrebounding Nancy 29-45 overall. Mike Batiste recorded a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Greens. Dimitrios Diamantidis scored 14 points to go with 9 rebounds, and also shadowed Nancy's go-to-guy, Ricardo Greer, managing to contain him in the second half. Kostas Tsartsaris posted 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Nikola Pekovic came off the bench to add 10 points. Panathinaikos was one step ahead for most of the game, but Nancy kept coming back thanks to heroics from Greer, who finished with 26 points - but only 9 of those after halftime - while guard Steed Tchicamboud added 18. It seemed to be anybody's game at 68-69, but the Greek champs showed their experience by finishing off the game a 2-11 run sparked by Sarunas Jasikevicius and Batiste.
A determined Tchicamboud started the game with 5 points for the Nancy, while Tsartsaris scored twice inside for Panathinaikos. Greer stepped up with a triple, a power layup and a feed to center Cyril Julian to put the hosts ahead 12-9. Panathinaikos adjusted on the defensive end to force Nancy into turnovers and start taking control of the rebounds. The Greens only allowed Nancy just 3 points in a span of 5 minutes to make a huge 3-15 run, mostly on easy layups as Pekovic came off the bench to help Batiste dominate inside. John Cox ended Nancy's scoring drought with a triple at the first quarter's buzzer to cut Pao's lead to 18-24.
The swarming Panathinaikos defense continued forcing Nancy turnovers in the second quarter, but the visitors failed to take advantage of the resulting opportunities. After Dusan Kecman of Panathinaikos and Michel Morandais of Nancy exchanged three-pointers, the Greens went inside to Pekovic, who passed to wide-open Antonis Fotsis for a dunk and then downed his own tough layup. Stratos Peperoglou stole another ball from Nancy to fastbreak the Panathinaikos lead to double digits, 24-35, and force home coach Jean-Luc Monschau to ask for a timeout. Nancy responded with free throws by Lamayne Wilson, a jumper by Tchicamboud and a triple from Greer to get within 31-37. Now Panathinaikos boss Zelko Obradovic needed to talk to his team. Tsartsaris left the timeout and hit a corner three, but Greer answered with his fourth from downtown. Nancy missed a couple chances to get closer as the halftime scoreboard showed Panathinaikos ahead 37-45.
Diamantidis kept Panathinaikos rolling after the break with a three-pointer off the dribble and a length-of-the-court pass that Batiste converted for a layup at 39-50. Wilson drove to score a much-needed basket for Nancy and then Jeff Greer copied his brother with a triple. Tchicamboud almost lost the ball on the next possession, but ended up hitting from downtown, too, fueling a Nancy comeback. Even though Pekovic harassed the Nancy frontline into foul trouble, Ricardo Greer found Tchicamboud for another long-range bomb that forged Nancy's first lead since the first quarter, 52-51. A free throw by Pekovic and an easy fastbreak layup by Diamantidis put the guests back ahead before a free throw by Ricardo Greer finished the quarter lowering the difference to 53-54.
Panathinaikos regained control at the start of the final quarter as Drew Nicholas hit a three-pointer, Diamantidis scored in the post and Pekovic added another bucket inside for a 0-7 Pao run to a 53-61 advantage. Greer ran the length of the court for an acrobatic layup, but his and Wilson's missed free throws were ill-timed. The defenses made it almost impossible for either team to score easily as a long exchange of foul shouting ended with Batiste missing 1 of 2, but the Greens rebounding and getting the ball back to him for a layup at 62-69 with less than 5 minutes left on the clock. It was Greer-time then, as the brothers combined for Nancy's next 6 points, with Jeff assisting to Ricardo on the last bucket to cut the deficit to 68-69. But the hosts wouldn't get closer, as a previously quiet Jasikevicius timed his only three-pointer perfectly and then Pao's guards smartly found Batiste under the rim. Jeff Greer missed twice at 70-76 and about a minute to go, and that was it for Nancy, as Batiste drew an unsportsmanlike foul, and Diamantidis hammered the last nail in Nancy's coffin with a long three-pointer.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008