Panathinaikos held on for another home win on Thursday night, topping DKV Joventut Badalona 83-73 at the OAKA Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. The Greens improved to 8-0 atop Group B, adding another victory to what is already the second-best start to a Euroleague season this decade. Sani Becirovic scored a season-high 18 and Mike Batiste added 16 to lead the Panathinaikos charge. The game seemed academic after Milos Vujanic and Batiste helped Panathinaikos piece together a 17-0 first-quarter run. The Greens´ lead reached 20 in the second period and rested at54-34 at halftime. Visiting Joventut rallied to get to 65-60 early in the fourth quarter, but the hosts reeled off the game´s next 8 points and coasted to victory. Vujanic added 11 and Dimitrios Diamantidis dished 8 assists. Rudy Fernández had 18 for Joventut, which dropped to 4-4. Andrew Sullivan added 13, Dimitri Flis has 12 points and 10 rebounds and Ricky Rubio finished with 5 points, 7 assists and 7 steals.
The game got off to an uptempo start, but that did not mean easy baskets as both teams executed poorly. Fernandez scored all off Badalona`s points as the guests took a 5-2 lead. Panathinaikos continued to make poor decisions on the offensive end, but Kostas Tsartsaris grabbed two offensive rebounds and scored as many times to spark a 7-0 run and help the hosts regain lead at 9-7. Rubio came off the bench to steal the ball twice as Badalona responded with points coming from “The Ricky and Rudy Show.” Becirovic and Fernandez exchanged triples at 12-14 and Batiste dunked to even the score. That was only the beginning of what was in store. Diamantidis scored an easy layup on the fast break and Becirovic nailed another three-pointer. Vujanic followed suit as Panathinaikos increased its run to 10-0. Batiste scored from the line and then Vujanic exploded for 5 points of his own to bring it to 29-14. One made free throw by Rubio ended Badalona`s scoring drought after an incredible 17-point surge for Panathinaikos. Batiste found easy points to close the quarter at 33-15.
Tsartsaris connected with a hook at the start of the second period to make it a 20-point game. Ferran Laviña took over on offense for Juventut, scoring back-to-back jumpers, the second from behind the arc, to make it 35-20. But, Panathinaikos fed the ball inside for a Batiste dunk and Dimos Dikoudis also connected. Laviña scored another basket as points started to come easier for both teams. It began to look as if both sites had already realized the final outcome with two-and-a-half quarters left to play. Nikos Chatzivrettas and Elmer Bennett popped in a triple each and Ramunas Sikauskas added another to make it 51-31. When Fragiskos Alveris scored from the line, he became the 10th Panathinaikos player to enter his name in the scoresheet. Sullivan recorded a nice basket-plus-foul, but the hosts still went to the lockers for halftime having built a huge 54-34 lead.
It took almost two minutes for Panathinaikos to score in the third period, but Badalona was unable to cut the margin much, as only Sullivan connected with a difficult drive. Alvertis nailed a triple at 57-36 as Joventut struggled to find opportunities. However Rubio was about to change that. The teenager dished an excellent assist to Charles Gaines and Sullivan scored on an offensive rebound as the guests closed to 57-42. Rubio ran the floor to draw a foul and trim it more. Vujanic chipped in his third triple to help Panathinaikos improve to 60-46, but Sullivan scored 3 points from the charity stripe. Chatzivrettas nailed a buzzer-beating triple from 10 meters, but Marcelinho Huertas finished a good fast break and Flis scored in the paint to bring Badalona closer. Batiste answered back at 65-55, but the visitors had outscored the hosts 21-11 to get within 10 after 30 minutes.
Offensive rebounds kept on coming easy for Badalona and that allowed Sullivan to nail a triple to start the final period. Joventut now controlled the tempo and Barton added another three-pointer and after just one minute in the final period, the guests had trimmed it to 65-60. But that´s when the Badalona effort ran out of gas and as a result Panathinaikos rebuilt a double-digit margin with points coming from Batiste, Dikoudis and Siskauskas. Marcelinho and Flis cooperated for the most impressive play of the game as the latter dunked an alley-hoop pass. Flis passed the ball to Gaines on the weak side for another Badalona dunk at 73-65. Dikoudis did not miss from the line, but Flis answered back from the base line at 75-67. Dikoudis was now the Greens’ top offensive weapon, pushing the score to 77-67 with 2 minutes remaining and nothing would change from that point. Panathinaikos sailed from that point to an 83-73 win over Badalona.
Thursday, December 14, 2006