Panathinaikos Athens got itself a winning start of the Euroleague Basketball Asia Tour, after taking control early and cruising to 64-83 win over Zhejiang Lions on Monday at the Hangzhou Stadium in Hangzhou, China. Miroslav Raduljica sparked a 5-14 first quarter spurt, before Sasha Pavlovic was in main role in the second quarter to help provide the Greens with 26-39 halftime lead. Panathianikos kept the double-digit margin in the second half, and helped by a wild buzzer-beater from Dimitris Diamantidis it held 48-61 going into the fourth quarter where Raduljica, Pavlovic and Nick Calathes sealed the outcome. Pavlovic led the Greens with 13 points, Ognjen Kuzmic had 12, Raduljica and Vladimir Jankovic scored 11 apiece, while Antonis Fotsis added 10 points. Eli Holman paced the Lions with 21 points, Sun Henan contributed with 16, and Jeremy Pargo netted 10 in defeat. Panathinaikos wraps up Euroleague Basketball Asia Tour against Guangdong Tigers in Macau on Wednesday.
Both teams struggled to score early until Sun struck from downtown. Raduljica stepped up with a close basket that Holman erased with a six-meter jumper. Raduljica singlehandedly gave Panathinaikos its first lead, 5-6, before Vasilis Charalampopoulos hit a three-pointer and Calathes scored in transition for an 8-11 Panathinaikos edge. Kuzmic followed a mid-range jumper with a free throw and an off-balance basket by Diamantidis gave the Greens 10-18 lead after 10 minutes.
Back-to-back baskets by Pavlovic made it a double-digit game, 10-22, early in the second quarter. Jankovic shined with a put-back layup, Pargo split foul shots and a close basket by Holman brought Zhejiang within 15-24. Holman and Pargo kept pacing Zhejiang, but a dunk by Fotsis and a put-back layup by Pavlovic kept Panathinaikos way ahead, 20-28. Georgios Papagiannis found his first points, Pavlovic scored again and a layup by Diamantidis gave Panathinaikos plenty of fresh air at 21-34. Calathes and Jankovic made the Greens keep 26-39 margin at halftime.
Fotsis hit one from beyond the arc immediately after the break. Holman banked in a close shot and Sun kept Zhejiang within 30-42. Holman ignited the crowd with back-to-back dunks but a three-pointer by Fotsis restored a 34-46 Panathinaikos lead. Holman shined with another slam, Kuzmic scored around the basket and a one-handed floater by Charalampopoulos gave the Greens 36-50 margin. Jankovic joined the three-point shootout but Sun and Pargo kept Zhejiang within 41-53. Kuzmic dunked twice but Sun and Pargo gave Zhejiang hope before Diamantidis hit his second buzzer-beater of the night, a wild three-pointer which gave the Greens a 48-61 edge after 30 minutes.
Janhao Zhao and Fotsis free throws early in the fourth quarter and a triple by Sun gave Zhejiang hope at 52-63. Raduljica scored down low off a Panathinaikos timeout and free throws by Pavlovic made it an 11-point game, 56-67. Pavlovic kept pacing Panathinaikos and got help from Calathes and James Feldeine to seal the outcome, 60-75, with 3 minutes left. Zhejiang kept trying but the Greens kept a safe margin until the final buzzer.
Panathinaikos Athens head coach, Sasha Djordjevic:
"It was just our second game and we are just getting to know each other. We made a good effort from our defense and that is how it's going to be all year round. They had some great players that played well tonight, and made us play hard in order to win this game. It was also hard to travel from Europe and get in shape for a game in just a couple of days, but I'd say it was a good practice game for us."
Panathinaikos Athens forward Sasha Pavlovic:
"I think it was a hard game for us. We won at the end and the team played very hard and made it difficult for us. It is only the second game we play all together and I think we are getting better every day. It was agood test for us and I am happy we won this game."