Panathinaikos left no doubt its power in Group C by downing CSKA 84-89 in Moscow, Russia on Wednesday night. Panathinaikos stays as the uncontested leader in Group C with a 8-1 record and was set to become the first team to seal its ticket to the Euroleague Top 16 with the next loss by Pau-Orthez. Meanwhile, CSKA lost its six-game winning streak and dropped to 6-3 in the standings. Jaka Lakovic led the winners with 21 points and 5 assists, Vassilis Spanoulis added 20 points and also dished 5 assists, Mike Batiste had 13 points and Dimitris Diamantidis 10 for Panathinaikos, including a critical three with 32.3 seconds to go which sealed the outcome. J.R. Holden led CSKA with 25 points while David Andersen scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. The game saw 19 lead changes and 13 ties until a free throw by Holden brought CSKA within 80-81, but Diamantidis fired in a three while Kostas Tsartsaris and Lakovic combined for 4 free throws to seal a very important win.
CSKA sent out Zakhar Pashutin again to start for injured swingman David Vanterpool. Both teams struggled to score in the early going until Lakovic fed Kostas Tsartsaris for a shot in close. Pashutin tied the game with a driving layup and fed Holden for a corner three-pointer that gave CSKA a 5-2 lead. Lakovic answered from downtown, but Andersen beat the Greens' 2-1-2 zone defense with a put-back basket. Diamantidis fed Batiste for a two-handed dunk, but Langdon buried his first triple and beat the buzzer with another one from the arc. Hatzivrettas matched at the other end, however, pulling Panathinaikos within 13-12. Andersen dunked it for a 15-12 score, as Panathinaikos switched to man-to-man defense once Papaloukas stepped on court. Free throws by Tsartsaris and Lakovic put the Greens in charge, 15-16, and a big three by Dusan Sakota extended his team's margin to 17-19. Free throws by Matjaz Smodis for CSKA fixed the score at 19-19 after 10 minutes.
Theodoros Papaloukas took over with a turnaround jumper early in the second quarter but Diamantidis answered from the left corner and Lakovic copied him from the right wing for a 21-25 Panathinaikos edge. Nikita Kurbanov got CSKA on track with another three, and even when Spanoulis scored in penetration, Andersen nailed a jumper to fire up the crowd. Smodis followed it with a basket-plus-free throw that let CSKA regain the lead, 29-27, after 14 minutes. Panov capped a 11-3 run with another three-pointer, but the hosts entered the foul bonus too early. Free throws by Dimitrios Papanikolaou and Diamantidis got the Greens within 34-32. Spanoulis and Smodis traded triples while free throws by Lakovic tied it again at 37-37. Panathinaikos kept control due to its famous three-guard lineup, as Spanoulis nailed a pull-up jumper, but Holden slashed for a layup which kept the game tied, 40-40, at halftime.
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Tsartsaris hit one from downtown, but Holden answered with consecutive baskets and Papaloukas added a fastbreak dunk to put CSKA back in charge, 47-45. The hosts tried to use a more aggressive defense which Diamantidis beat with a corner three, but Holden - who else? - matched it at the other end. Spanoulis joined the three-point festival with one from the left wing which Batiste followed with a put-back dunk for a 50-53 Panathinaikos lead. Batiste capped a 0-7 run with free throws, but Holden and Andersen scored all points in a 7-0 response that allowed CSKA to get a 57-55 lead. Hatzivrettas stepped up with a triple to which Andersen answered with a jump hook. Hatzivrettas made free throws and Spanoulis added a three-point play off a steal to give the Greens a 62-63 lead, but Holden capped his sensational third quarter with back-to-back threes, as he banked in the second one before the buzzer to help CSKA go ahead 68-63 after 30 minutes.
Andersen quickly made a jump hook to cap a 8-0 run which gave CSKA its biggest lead so far, 70-63. Spanoulis tried to change things with a driving layup that Lakovic followed with an unbelievable three to make it a two-point game, 70-68. Spanoulis and Lakovic combined for 6 quick points to force a CSKA timeout, 70-74, after a 0-11 run. Panov came to the rescue with a corner three but a red-hot Spanoulis answered with an off-balance jumper to which Batiste followed with a big triple to keep the Greens ahead, 73-79. Andersen and Panov fueled a 6-0 run which brought CSKA back into the game, 79-79, but Lakovic shined with a layup to give the guests a 79-81 edge with under 3 minutes to go. Both teams struggled to score for 2 long minutes until Holden made a free throw with 43 seconds to go, but after a Panathinaikos timeout, Diamantidis sealed the outcome with an open corner triple that landed with 32.3 seconds remaining. Holden and Diamantidis exchanged turnovers, while Andersen scored with 17.8 seconds to go. Tsartsaris drew an unsportmanlike foul, as he and Lakovic combined for 4 of 4 free throws to give Panathinaikos a prestigious road win.
Wednesday, January 4, 2006