Panathinaikos remained the exclusive leader in Group B by beating injury-plagued Union Olimpija 65-86 on the road on Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Wednesday night. Panathinaikos won its third straight and leads the standings with a 3-0 record, while Olimpija dropped to 1-2 after its first home loss. Tony Delk led the winners with 15 points, Dimos Dikoudis added 12 while Nikos Hatzivrettas had 10 for Panathinaikos. Marko Milic led Olimpija with a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds, Teemu Rannikko added 17 points while Manu Markoishvili had 12 for the hosts, who were without three injured starters - Erden Arslan, Saso Ozbolt and Ivica Jurkovic. Panathinaikos used a 0-8 run to get a 15-20 edge at the end of the third quarter, while Dikoudis and Dejan Tomasevic allowed the Greens to extend their margin to 31-37 at halftime. Rannikko and an outstanding Milic brought Olimpija back in the game, but Hatzivrettas and Sani Becirovic shined in the final period to make Panathinaikos get a 52-67 lead with 6 minutes to go, enough to seal a well-deserved win.
Panathinaikos won the opening tip and got on the board first as Batiste corrected a Kostas Tsartsaris miss for 2 points. Olimpija's first points came a minute later from Milic, right after he swatted a Batiste shot. The jitters seemed to overtake the hosts as they committed some early turnovers, and Hatzivrettas followed a Batiste slam with a jumper as the Greens went up 2-7. Markoishvili free throws and a Rannikko three allowed Olimpija to tie the game at 7-7 before the Greens pulled away again as Tsartsaris sandwiched a Hatzivrettas layup with a pair of threes to make it 7-15. Olimpija looked to cut the gap as Markoishvili hit a three, but Ramunas Siskauskas answered from beyond the arc for the visitors. Christian Maraker got Olimpija within 15-18 , but a Dikoudis bucket ended the quarter with Panathinaikos ahead 15-20.
Rannikko was feeling it from outside at the start of the second period, drilling two from downtown to get his side within 21-22. Dikoudis had already scored when Tomasevic came off the bench to hit a layup for Panathinaikos. Rannikko went to the well one time too many as the Greens extended the lead to 5 on another basket by Tomasevic. Delk and Dikoudis combined on a 6-point spurt to push the lead to 23-32, before Rannikko stopped the run with two from the line. Delk answered back to make it a 9-point lead again, but Hasan Rizvic took over in the paint in the final two minutes of the half, offsetting a Dikoudis triple with three close baskets to get Olimpija within 31-37 at halftime.
Dikoudis opened the third quarter with a three-pointer from the left wing and Delk's free throws made it an 11-point game. Olimpija kept looking for the long shots, but its shoters were off-target now. Markoishvili scored with a driving layup and Rannikko found space to hit a corner triple to give Olimpija some hope at 36-43. Milic set the crowd on fire with an acrobatic layup, which he followed with a put-back basket to get Olimpija back within 3. But after a Panathinaikos timeout, Siskauskas scored and Batiste added a jump hook to give the Greens some breathing room at 40-47. An active Milic answered with a driving layup and Rannikko beat the shot clock with an incredible triple to close the gap to 45-47. But Panathinaikos still had time for one more run. A Batiste dunk was followed by a Dusan Sakota three-point play during a 0-8 Panathinaikos run, which Siskauskas capped with a floating layup to make it 45-55 after three quarters.
Saulius Kuzminskas tried to ignit an Olimpija comeback with a close basket, but Siskauskas matched it on the other end. Milic scored again in the low post and after Hatzivrettas quicky answered, Milic beat the shot clock with a wild three-pointer for a 52-59 Olimpija deficit. Hatzivrettas took the challenge and answered from downtown while Becirovic followed another triple with a put-back layup that broke the game open, 52-67 with six minutes to go. Kuzminskas kept pacing Olimpija with a power layup, but Robertas Javtokas erased it at the other end. Olimpija kept its fighting spirit and never gave up until the final buzzer, pushed by an incredible crowd, but once Becirovic hit free throws and Javtokas shined with a power basket, the outcome was already sealed. Olimpija overcame injuries to challenge one of the best teams in the competition, but Panathinaikos left Ljubljana with a big road win.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006