ALBA stays alive with monumental victory in Athens
ALBA Berlin rallied in the fourth quarter to edge Panathinaikos Athens on the road 66-68 on Thursday night. The victory was one of ALBA’s biggest-ever in the Euroleague and improved it to 7-6 in Top 16 Group E, while Panathinaikos dropped to 7-6. Panathinaikos holds a tiebreak advantage over ALBA due to its 6-point win in Berlin, however, both teams hold the keys to their own destiny and both will advance to the playoffs with a victory next week. Panathinaikos entered the final quarter with 55-46 lead – its biggest of the night, but Reggie Redding strung together 8 points to rally the visitors. The teams traded slim leads with Dimitris Diamantidis scoring for Panathinaikos, but Jamel McLean and Alex Renfroe made key baskets down the stretch to secure an ALBA victory. Renfroe finished with 16 points and 9 assists, Redding netted 8 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, while McLean amassed 11 points and 11 rebounds. Diamantidis led all scorers with 18 points, A.J. Slaughter and Antonis Fotsis had 12 apiece, and Esteban Batista scored 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Visitors erase Panathinaikos’s strong start
On its first trip down the floor, Panathinaikos grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds before Diamantidis opened the scoring with a triple. Slaughter followed it up with a floater and Batista made a couple free throws for a 7-0 start. Slaughter’s jumper extended the margin and forced visiting coach Sasa Obradovic to call a timeout, after which Cliff Hammonds and Renfroe nailed back-to-back triples to make it 9-6. Slaughter hit a second-chance three for the Greens, but Marko Banic scored from close range for the visitors. Slaughter made free throws and then fed James Gist for a fastbreak layup and a 15-8 advantage. However, Tabu countered with a triple, and after free throws from Diamantidis, Niels Giffey knocked down a baseline jumper for ALBA. McLean and Giffey made foul shots to close within 17-16. DeMarcus Nelson drove for a layup for the hosts, but Renfroe bettered it with a three and Redding quickly drove for a layup to give the Berliners a 19-21 edge. In the final minute of the quarter, Vlantimir Giankovits made free throws, but Banic finished with a layup that made it 21-23.
Second quarter: Batista and Fotsis secure the Greens with halftime lead
Renfroe’s reverse layup started the second quarter before a dunk from Batista and a triple from Antonis Fotsis put Panathinaikos back in front 26-25. Batista had another dunk, and after a driving layup from Hammonds, a triple from Diamantidis made it 31-27. Redding sank a baseline jumper midway through the quarter, and a layup from Alex King cut it to 32-31. However, Batista drove the baseline for a sweet reverse layup, and Fotsis went 4-for-4 from the free throw line before driving the baseline for a layup of his own that made it 40-31. After a timeout, Renfroe fought for a put-back to snap an 8-0 run, and send teams into halftime with Panathinaikos up 40-33.
Third quarter: Greens end quarter strong, build lead
McLean made a put-back to get the second ahlf going, but Slaughter answered with a fade-away jumper. Hammonds nailed a corner three for ALBA and McLean worked inside to cut the deficit to 42-40. Slaughter hit a long jumper, but Redding made a steal and raced for an easy two. Batista scored inside for Panathinaikos, but McLean answered with an alley-oop dunk for ALBA. A triple from Diamantidis put the hosts up 49-44 before several turnovers on both ends of the floor kept both teams scoreless for almost three minutes until Giankovits scored a put-back. Leon Radosevic made a baseline jumper to end ALBA’s drought, but Fotsis nailed a triple for the hosts and Batista split free throws for a 55-46 cushion.
Fourth quarter: Berliners rally for huge victory
Redding hit back-to-back triples to open the quarter, getting ALBA within 55-52. Redding’s jumper cut it to a single point, and forced the hosts to call a timeout. It was Gist who ended the run from close range, but King nailed a three-pointer to tie the score at 57-57. Diamantidis countered with a triple, but Renfroe drove for a layup to keep the visitors within a single possession. After Gist had an easy slam, Radosevic answered with a layup and McLean made a pair of foul shots, giving ALBA a 62-63 lead with less than four minutes to go. Panathinaikos was back in front again on a long jumper from Diamantidis, but McLean split free throws and Renfroe sank 2 more for a 64-66 advantage. Diamantidis leveled things up, getting a friendly roll on a jumper, but Renfroe scored a tip-in to keep ALBA in front. The visitors made a pair of defensive stands to enter the final 40 seconds up 66-68. Renfroe missed an off-balance jumper and Panathinaikos had 12 seconds for the final possession. After a timeout, Slaughter missed a three-pointer, and McLean secured a rebound with one second to go. He missed both free throws, but there was no time for the hosts to make a valid attempt as ALBA celebrated a huge victory.
Thursday, April 2, 2015