Thomas, Calathes lead Panathinaikos past Zvezda
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens overcame a slow start to defeat Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 87-82 at OAKA on Thursday. The visiting team was ahead for the entire first quarter, but Panathinaikos soon hit its stride and produced a high-scoring third quarter to take the lead for good, establishing a big enough margin to withstand a fourth-quarter fightback from Zvezda. Nick Calathes led his team’s efforts by pairing 21 points with 7 assists, and there was an outstanding effort from DeShaun Thomas with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. New signings Tyrese Rice (12) and Jimmer Fredette (11) also reached double figures in points. Zvezda debutant James Gist led all scorers against his former team, registering 22 points and 7 rebounds. Billy Baron and Stratos Perperoglou, another ex-Panathinaikos man, both added 15 points in defeat.
Gist helped Zvezda make a fast start for a 0-5 lead and the visiting team stayed ahead through the remainder of the first quarter despite a flurry of points from Calathes, who matched Gist by netting 8 in the first quarter, which ended with Zvezda leading 14-17. Rice orchestrated the Panathinaikos offense to a 10-2 surge at the start of the second quarter to take the lead, but Gist and Michael Ojo from close range and Baron from deep made it 24-26 with a 0-7 run. Ojo fouled out before halftime as Calathes completed a three-point play and a flurry of free throws made it 37-35 at the interval. A pair of Calathes-to-Georgios Papagiannis alley-oops and consecutive baskets by Thomas preserved the lead early in the second half before another Papagiannis dunk gave Panathinaikos a double-digit lead. Three-pointers from Calathes and Fredette stretched the advantage and it was 66-53 at the end of the third. The scoring was even early in the final quarter before 5 straight points from Perperoglou helped make it 76-70 with 4 minutes remaining. Another basket from Thomas and a deep strike from Calathes reassured Panathinaikos, and even a trademark alley-oop slam by Gist wasn’t enough to bring Zvezda back.
Panathinaikos fixes rebounding deficit
Zvezda’s first-quarter dominance was largely explained by its rebounding prowess – the Serbian team grabbed 16 boards in the opening 10 minutes, 8 of them coming at the offensive end. But Panathinaikos made a massive improvement in its rebounding and restricted the visitors to just 18 boards the rest of the way, and the rebounding battle was eventually closely matched at 32-34.
Foul trouble bothers Zvezda
The visiting team’s attempts to control the paint after that powerful first quarter were severely dented by foul trouble. Michael Ojo couldn’t even reach halftime, fouling out in just over 8 minutes on the floor, while Gist had to tread carefully after reaching 4 fouls early in the third quarter.
Promising start for new backcourt duo
The old guard of Calathes and Thomas dominated the scoring for Panathinaikos, but there were also promising signs from a pair of summer signings in the backcourt: Rice had 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal, while Fredette contributed 11 points in 25 minutes on the floor.
Round 2 will see Panathinaikos head on the road to take on LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, while Zvezda will enjoy its home opener with a high-profile showdown against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Thursday, October 3, 2019