Dimitris Diamantidis scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to lead Panathinaikos to a 60-67 road win over pesky Asseco Prokom Sopot on Wednesday in Poland. The Greens improved to 4-1 in Group B before visiting Zalgiris next week, Prokom, which saw its five-game home-court winning streak snapped, fell to 2-3. The Greek champs finished the first half on a 2-11 tear to take a 24-36 halftime lead and seemed in control throughout the third period. But Prokom stormed back as Ronnie Burrell scored half the points in an 8-0 start to the fourth quarter and Aleksej Nesovic soon hit a triple to tie the game at 50-50. But Diamantidis got some help from Vassilis Spanoulis to score the key baskets down the stretch to sink Prokom. Diamantidis finished with 15 points and 4 steals, while Nikola Pekovic added 15 points and Spanoulis 12 for the winners. David Logan paced Prokom with 16 points and Pat Burke added 11 against his former team.
Nikos Katzivrettas took advantage of his first start of the season to fire in a jumper on the opening possession, before Adam Hrycaniuk scored on the offensive glass for the hosts. Pekovic and Mike Batiste used their size to push the Greens to a 2-7 lead. A Koko Archibong runner and a Logan three tied the score as Prokom got its feet. Burke matched Diamantidis’s three-pointer with a basket-plus-foul. Logan heated up and started to trade baskets with Panathinaikos before Burrell scored on the break to put the hosts ahead 16-14. Pekovic tied the game from the line, but a Burrell jumper gave Prokom an 18-16 lead at the end of the period.
A Drew Nicholas three-pointer gave the visitors the start to the second period they wanted, but Prokom slowed the game and Burke scored inside to keep things close. However a Batiste jumper and a Vassilis Spanoulis fast-break layup gave Panathinaikos a small cushion to work with. Antonis Fotsis’s first points made it 20-25 before Burke answered for Prokom in the paint. Panathinaikos pressed forward as drew his fifth foul and remained perfect from the line and Fotsis added a bucket as the lead reached 7. Prokom had trouble getting the shots it wanted against the Panathinaikos zone defense, while Spanoulis used his speed to pick up a pair of baskets, giving the Greens their first double-digit advantage. Diamantidis would add 2 more free throws to polish off a 2-11 end to the half for a 24-36 Panathinaikos lead at the break.
Dusan Sakota opened the second half with a basket to give the Greens their biggest lead yet. Logan showed signs of life for Prokom with a triple, but a Pekovic basket kep Paanthinaikos in control. After Archibong scored, Hrycaniuk converted a three-point play as Prokom narrowed the gap to 32-40. Nicholas scored in transition and Fotsis fired in a three to put Panathinaikos up by 13, however Archibong continued his strong play first with a three-pointer and then by drawing a charge from Kostas Tsartsaris at the other end. Logan drove baseline to cut it to 8 again, but Batsiste put his team up 37-47 at the end of the period.
Prokom looked far more determined than before one the fourth quarter began. Burrell started things with a basket, then Dan Ewing dunked on the break and free throws by Burrell and Filip Dylewicz capped an 8-0 run that put the Polish champs right back in the game. Diamantidis ended Panathinaikos’s drought with a three-point play, bur Prokom wasn’t done. After a basket by Ewing, Nesovic connected on a second-chance triple to tie the score at 50-50. Spanoulis’s free throws were cancelled by a Dylewicz basket underneath, but Diamantidis muscled through the defense for another basket-plus-foul. Logan made 2 from the line only to see Spanoulis hit a three for a 54-58 lead. The Greens’ defense forced a 24-second violation and soon Diamantidis stretched the lead to 6 from the line. Logan answered with a runner with less than two minutes to play, but Diamantidis again stood tall for the visitors as he drove and earned a goaltending call. And when Pekovic added a basket to make it 56-64 with a minute left, the home team’s last hopes were dashed and Panathinaikos held on for the win.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008