Greens snap losing streak by beating Maccabi
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens got back on the winning path by defeating visiting Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 81-63 at OAKA on Thursday night. The hosts rolled in the first quarter to lead 25-9, but Maccabi managed to trim the deficit to only 3 points at the end of the third. A strong defensive effort, which held the visitors scoreless for 5 minutes, allowed the Greens to recover a double-digit advantage midway through the last quarter and escape with the win. Panathinaikos snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 10-17, while Maccabi dropped to 11-16. Ioannis Papapetrou led the winners with 20 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting. He was followed by Aaron White with 15 points and 7 rebounds, Dinos Mitoglu provided 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists and Mario Hezonja added another 12 points for the hosts. Scottie Wilbekin bounced back from a scoreless game against Valencia Basket with 14 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting to pace Maccabi.
Hezonja fueled the hosts with a three and a monster dunk in the early going, then White joined in with a couple of buckets to give the Greens an 11-3 edge after 4 minutes. Chris Jones took over both offensively and defensively trying to push forward Maccabi, but unsuccessfully. Eleftherios Bochoridis and Papapetrou scored, White followed with 5 points in a row and Hezonja hit from downtown to cap a 12-0 run that made it 25-7. Even though Bryant broke the trend with a layup at the end of the first quarter, the hosts didn’t need too much to retain a 34-16 margin early in the second. The visitors stepped up in defense, as Wilbekin’s first three ignited his team on offense for a while. Sandy Cohen reduced it to 34-23, but White and Mitoglu combined to prevent Maccabi from getting closer. Another three by Wilbekin made it 43-30 at halftime.
Jones and Elijah Bryant showed up right after the break to trim the deficit to single-digits, 43-35. Panathinaikos reacted quickly as Hezonja banked in a one-leg shot and Howard Sant-Roos and Papapetrou buried back-to-back threes to restore a comfortable cushion, 51-35, to the Greens. Papapetrou remained hot and solved most of Panathinaikos's problems on offense, but the momentum seemed to have swung. Tyler Dorsey and Wilbekin combined from behind the arc to reduce the gap to 56-48 as Angelo Caloiaro and another bomb by John DiBartolomeo preceded a buzzer-beater tip-in by Ante Zizic that made it a one-possession game, 58-55, entering the last quarter. Panathinaikos reacted in style, holding Maccabi scoreless for 5 minutes to spark a 9-0 run which included a monster dunk by Ben Bentil to recover a safe margin, 67-55. Wilbekin and Dorsey tried to reanimate the visitors from the perimeter, but Papapetrou was not about letting his team down. He first scored a backdoor baseline layup and then strung together a couple of threes to extend the margin to 77-59 to seal the outcome.
It’s so good to be back
Ioannis Papapetrou had missed the last two games, but he looked in pretty good shape. He led all scorers with 20 points and became the go-to-guy for Panathinaikos when Maccabi got close. His 8 points in a row, including back-to-back threes, late in the fourth quarter, confirmed the win.
Great start, great ending
The hosts built their win using a strong start and a strong finish. They opened the game with a 25-7 tear and outscored Maccabi 23-8 in the last quarter.
Rally for nothing
Maccabi seemed to be against the ropes right after halftime when they trailed 56-40 midway through the third quarter. But a 2-15 run in 4:30 behind triples by Tyler Dorsey, Scottie Wilbekin and John DiBartolomeo brought the Israeli champs back into the game. The Greens replied with a 9-0 run to open the fourth that aborted the rally.
Panathinaikos head coach Oded Kattash emphasized how important it was to stop Maccabi’s backcourt and it seemed his players stuck to the plan. Even though Wilbekin scored 14 on 5-of-11 shooting, the trio of Elijah Bryant, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Jones were limited to 5-of-16 on two-pointers and 2-of-9 on threes, combined.
Maccabi's next game will be a makeup from Round 23 against Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Tuesday, March, 16. Panathinaikos will host Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade on Friday, March 19.
Thursday, March 11, 2021