Panathinaikos, which beat Power Electronics Valencia 56-72
Panathinaikos turned on some serious defense to open the new Turkish Airlines Euroleague season by downing host Power Electronics 56-72 on the road in Valencia, Spain on Thursday. Panathinaikos starts 1-0 in Group D along with a pair of upset winners, Union Olimpija and Armani Jeans Milano. The Greens took over with an early 0-10 run and enjoyed leads as high as 16 points before Valencia cut it to 45-51 in the 29th minute. From that point forward, Panathinaikos kept raising the difference again to win going away. Mike Batiste led a true ensemble effort with 13 points while Stratos Perperoglou added 10 for the winners. Dimitris Diamantidis directed the show, however, finishing with 8 points, 7 assists and 4 steals for Panathinaikos, while Aleks Maric pulled 9 rebounds. Valencia got 16 points from Rafa Martinez and 15 from Victor Claver, but suffered from 22 turnovers, 11 of which those two players shared.
Martinez sparked the hosts with a jumper, and after a block on the defensive end, Omar Cook blasted a triple for a 5-0 Valencia lead. Batiste made 2 of 2 free throws to get Panathinaikos on the board. A steal by Diamantidis then led to a fastbreak layup by Drew Nicholas as the Panathinaikos defense tightened, and when Perperoglou struck from downtown, the Greens were ahead 5-7. Batiste ruled the defensive boards and ball movement gave Nicholas an open triple, good for a 5-10 score. After a timeout, Serhiy Lishchuk's dunk and free throws by Cook helped Valencia recover, even though Perperoglou and Kostas Tsartsaris kept Panathinaikos ahead 10-14. Next, Claver got loose for an open triple and then finished a subsequent break with a two-hand slam for a 15-15 tie. Perperoglou had the last word of the quarter, however, as his block at one end and corner triple at the other gave the Greens a 15-17 lead after 10 minutes.
Dusko Savanovic opened the second quarter with 2 quick free throws to tie before Milenko Tepic hit a turnaround to keep Panathinaikos ahead. Robertas Javtokas tied again with a hook that Antonis Fotsis matched with free throws for the Greens. Marco Fernandez detonated a ferocious dunk to take another lead for Valencia, which Jose Simeon maintained with the host's next layup at 23-22. By then, the Panathinaikos defense had seen enough. Ian Vougioukas scored on a reverse then stepped out for a jumper to make it 23-26 before Diamantidis added 3 points for Panathinaikos with a fall-back layup and free throw. Out of timeout, Omar Cook revived Valencia with a layup, but the Greens quickly went about amplifying the difference again, with Nicholas from downtown instigating another 0-7 run to a double-digit 26-36 edge as Diamantidis fed Batiste for an alley-oop dunk. Batiste's next shot was high over Lishchuk while falling down, good for a three-point play to which Maric added his own 3 points to finish a 12-25 second quarter with the scoreboard showing the game's biggest difference until then, 27-42.
Martinez tried to inspire the hosts with a gutsy jumper out of the break, but Diamantidis answered from long range to make it 29-45. Good plays let Maric and Savanovic exchange baskets before Diamantidis assisted Perperoglou from halfcourt for a layup at 33-49. Claver drilled an open triple and Martinez turned a steal into 2 free throws to get Valencia within 38-49. Valencia's defense, starting with full-court pressure, was more aggressive now, and when Claver got 2 more free throws, the hosts were within single digits, 40-49. Nick Calathes got the free throws back for Panathinaikos, but Claver one-upped him with a long triple from the top. Except for a Javtokas free throw at 44-51, neither team could get past the other's defense for a while. Eventually, Florent Pietrus also hit a free throw for the hosts for the lowest difference for some time, 45-51, but 4 perfect free throws between Tsartsaris and Diamantidis offset a quarter-ending layup by Cook to keep Panathinaikos in charge at 47-55.
Batiste with a neat lefty basket, Tsartsaris getting free throws off an assist from Diamantidis and Romain Sato with a tip-in boosted the visitors to a new 14-point lead, 47-61, to start the final quarter. Valencia needed hope and got it from Martinez in the form of back-to-back triples that cut the difference to 53-61. But without any hesitation, Nicholas found Sato in the corner for a triple in response. It was not long, either, before Sato's next triple made it 53-67. That forced a Valencia timeout, but the hosts cold not solve the Panathinaikos defense that quickly. By the time Batiste dunked off a steal, it was 53-71 in the next-to-last minute. Martinez canned another triple, but visitors were just too tough and Valencia could not celebrate its home return to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
Thursday, October 21, 2010