With a strong start to the season, Panathinaikos secured its 14th consecutive Top 16 berth early. During their 5-2 start, the Greens dominated in four home victories, winning by an average margin of 16.8 points. Injuries to Dimitris Diamantidis and starting center Esteban Batista were tough to overcome, but its balanced offense saw A.J. Slaughter lead the team in scoring (12.7 ppg.), while Antonis Fotsis (56.3%) and Janis Blums (54.8%) were deadly from behind the arc, James Gist and Batista have battled on the offensive boards and defensively Panathinaikos made its opponents one-dimensional, holding them to a mere 28.5% three-point shooting, the best mark in the league.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: In just its fourth game of the Top 16, Panathinaikos will venture to the Spanish capital to meet Real Madrid. The game will be pivotal for a number of reasons as not only will it determine much in the standings, but it also brings about a clash of two of the top playmakers in the competition, reigning Euroleague MVP Sergio Rodriguez and former MVP Dimitris Diamantidis. Historically, Panathinaikos has fared well in Madrid, where it defeated Los Blancos 73-74 in their last meeting there in the 2013-13 Top 16 and has won 5 of 12 games overall.
GOING FORWARD: Panathinaikos is chasing its fifth straight playoff appearance, but the first under head coach Dusko Ivanovic, Panathinaikos has a deep roster filled with experienced veterans, who all seem ready to step in when their number gets called. The return from leg surgery of point guard DeMarcus Nelson will add more depth to the backcourt, and having him healthy together with Diamantidis, as well as both Batista and Mavrokefalidis in the paint, the Greens will look to hit the right form from the start. The key will be protecting its home court, where no less than six players average double figures in scoring – including Nikos Pappas (10.8 ppg.) and Vlantimir Giankovits (10.2 ppg.).