| Panathinaikos arguably got one of the most unbelievable wins so far in this 2008-09 Euroleague season by rallying for a seven-point deficit in the final 23 seconds of regulation to force overtime and edge BC Khimki Moscow Region 82-87 in Russia on Wednesday. Panathinaikos stayed atop the Group D standings with a 6-1 record and clinched a Top 16 spot with this win. Meanwhile, Khimki dropped to 4-3 but keeps all options alive to make it to the next round. Vassilis Spanoulis led the winners with 24 points but Antonis Fotsis became the game hero with a high-flying tip-in that sent the game to overtime. Mike Batiste added 15 points, Nikola Pekovic got 13 while Antonis Fotsis had 10 for the Greens. Kelly McCarty led Khimki with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Carlos Cabezas added 17 points, Paulius Jankunas had 12 while Robertas Javtokas got 11 for 4 blocks for the hosts. Cabezas took over after the break and a jumper by Robertas Javtokas gave Khimki a 72-65 lead with less than a minute left. Drew Nicholas and Spanoulis brought the Greens back to life. Spanoulis drew a foul at 73-70 with 2.1 seconds left. He missed his second attempt and Fotsis took over with an incredible tip-in right at the buzzer to force overtime, 73-73. Spanoulis and Stratos Perperoglou struck from downtown early in the extra period and Panathinaikos never looked back.
Pekovic got Panathinaikos going with a jump hook and Nicholas added a fallaway jumper for a 0-4 run. Jankunas buried a three-pointer, as Panathinaikos tired to open the court with Fotsis at power forward. Nicholas sank an off-balance shot but McCarty answered from downtown to tie it at 6-6. Khimki opted to slow down its offense, looking for open shots. Khimki kept running its offense through McCarty, that followed an acrobatic jumper with free throws for a 10-8 edge. Pekovic could not find easy options against Javtokas and Panathinaikos struggled to get its shooters involved. Vitaliy Fridzon fed Javtokas for a layup and McCarty buried his second triple for a 15-10 score. Pekovic stepped up with a jump hook off a Panathinaikos timeout that Timofey Mozgov bettered with a three-point play. Spanoulis came off the bench, made foul shots and fed Diamantidis for an easy layup to get the guests within 18-16. Tsartsaris capped a 0-7 run with a layup-plus-foul but free throws by McCarty and a tip-in by Batiste fixed the score at 20-21 after 10 minutes.
Khimki took back the lead on a fast break triple by veteran Sergey Toporov, but Batiste quickly answered with a jump hook, igniting a 0-8 run that Tsartsaris capped with a triple to give Panathinaikos a 23-29 lead. Cabezas stopped Khimki's slide by putting back an offensive rebound. Batiste drove from the corner for a running hook. Javtokas got that basket back for Khimki on a back-door layup and Fridzon soon added a three-pointer. Panathinaikos needed a timeout then, after which McCarty tied it 31-31 at the free throw line. Panathinaikos got Spanoulis open in the corner for a lead-saving triple, but Cabezas attacked on the break for one basket and McCarty stole and finished another, good for a new Khimki lead, 35-34. Spanoulis fed Fotsis for a dunk but Pekovic returned to the bench with 3 fouls, forcing Panathinaikos to change its game plan. Free throws by McCarty and a big triple by Fridzon put Khimki back ahead, 40-36. Fotsis and Spanoulis answered with consecutive baskets and free throws by Batiste gave the Greens a 40-42 edge at halftime.
Batiste sank free throws immediately after the break but Cabezas bettered that with a corner three-pointer that got Khimki within 43-44. Jankunas scored inside and a fast break layup by McCarty put the hosts back ahead, 47-46. Fotsis provided a highlight with an acrobatic layup but Khimki kept following its game plan, trying to feed its big men down low. Cabezas fed Javtokas for a layup and soon added a driving layup for a 51-48 score. Spanoulis struck from downtown and Batiste beat the shot clock with an incredible corner triple to restore a 53-54 Panathinaikos lead. Nicholas scored in penetration but Cabezas singlehandedly kept Khimki within 55-56. Batiste fed Fotsis for an easy basket, as Khimki had troubles to adjust its defense without Javtokas on the floor. Cabezas shined with a floating layup and Khimki regrouped in defense, not allowing the Greens to find Pekovic down low. Even with that, Panathinaikos kept a 57-59 edge after 30 minutes.
Both teams struggled to score early in the fourth quarter until Fridzon fed Mozgov for a dunk. Spanoulis took over with an off-balance driving basket, as the game turned into a physical battle. Spanoulis scored again in penetration but Mozgov kept the hosts as close as 61-63 with 6 minutes to go. Panathinaikos tried to open the court with corner shots without much success. Meanwhile, free throws by an unstoppable Mozgov tied it at 63-63. Khimki kept excelling with a 2-3 zone defense but coach Sergio Scariolo called timeout to improve its offense. Raul Lopez took over with a wild driving layup and a three-pointer by Jankunas set the crowd on fire at 68-63. Panathinaikos asked for a much-needed timeout but a close jumper by Cabezas made it a seven-point game, 70-63, with 2 minutes to go. Pekovic tried to rescue Panathinaikos with a layup that Javtokas matched with a five-meter jumper for a 72-65 score. Panathinaikos was not done, however, as free throws by Nicholas and a three-point play by Spanoulis got the Greens within 72-70 with 11 seconds to go. The Greens fouled on Lopez, that made 1-of-2 free throws. Spanoulis drew a foul with 2.1 seconds left, missed his second attempt in purpose but an unbelievable tip-in by Fotsis sent the game to overtime, 73-73.
Spanoulis sank a seven-meter bomb early in the extra period to complete the guests' comeback, 73-76. McCarty sank free throws that Perperoglou bettered with a treiple - his first points - for a 75-79 Panathinaikos lead. Pekovic scored down low soon after that to make Khimki call timeout at 75-81, after a 3-16 run. Javtokas tried to get the crowd involved with a dunk that Pekovic matched with free throws. More foul shots by Perperoglou sealed the outcome, 77-85, as Khimki could not rally in the last 90 minutes, allowing Panathinaikos to celebrate an incredible win in come-from-behind fashion!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009