Panathianikos did what it needed to stay in the Group B pack after half the regular season as it defeated Krka 64-74 on the road at Novo Mesto, Slovenia on Thursday. Tough defense was the main ingredient as the Greens raised their record to 3-4 and a fifth-place tie with Montepaschi. Krka fell to 1-6, tied for last place with Unicaja. Kostas Tsartsaris led the winners with 18 points and 11 rebounds , while Nikos Hatzivrettas and Arriel McDonald tallied 14 each. New center Haris Mujezinovic added 10 points in 15 minutes on the floor for the Greens. For Krka, Rick Rickert put up 19 points, Marko Antonijevic 12 and Clarence Gilbert 11.
The game started with a fast pace but ineffective offense, as the first points weren't scored until nearly 2 minutes had gone by when Tsartsaris Konstantinos gave Panathinaikos a 0-2 lead. Krka answered with triples from Clarence Gilbert and Marko Antonijevic, but defense continued to dominate as missed shots were abundant throughout the quarter. In the 8th minute, Krka's Mario Dundovic equaled the score at 10-10 but Tsartsaris quickly responded with a layup for 10-12. As the quarter came to a close, Chatzivrettas nailed a triple, giving the guests a 12-17 advantage. At the end of one quarter, the score stood at 14-17 following Marton Bader's 2 free thows.
Krka took its first lead early in the second quarter after 2 Mario Dundovic free throws and a triple from Antonijevic made it 19-17. Panathinaikos couldn't keep the hosts off the offensive glass, as Bader and Rick Rickert followed up with baskets and the score was 23-17. Panathinaikos switched to a zone defense and went on a 0-6 run spurred by McDonald's 4 consecutive points and after Mujezinovic's basket the score was knotted at 23-23. Panathinaikos continued to surge ahead but Krka temporarily stopped the bleeding and pulled to 28-31 after Slobodan Subotic's first triple of the night. McDonald was irrepressible, however, and his 10th point of the night made the score 28-35. Panathinaikos took a 29-37 lead into halftime after free throws by Mujezinovic.
Krka started third period replacing Slobodan Subotic and Duscak, who didn't score in the first half, with a newly-signed player, Mindaugas Budzinauskas, who immediately scored a three-pointer. Tsartsaris and Mujezinovic protected Panathinaikos's advantage, however, and made the score 35-44 in the 24th minute. When Fragiskos Alvertis made his first three-pointer of the night, Panathinaikos's lead was up to 37-47. Krka started to play nervously and picked up several fouls. Panathinaikos made its maximal lead at 38-52 but in the 29th minute, but Antonijevic scored his third three and lowered the deficit to 45-55 at the end of three quarters.
Rickert opened the last period with quick jumper. He soon got an answer from Dimitri Papanikolau who made his first points with a layup. Rickert registered his 15th point in the 35th minute of the game but Panathinaikos continued with great defense. Hatzivrettas made his 12th point, the score was 51-63 with 3 minutes to go. Soon after that Duscak went to the bench scoreless. Hatzivrettas made another layup to make it 51-68. When Rick Rickert scored and Gilbert hit another three Krka came within 61-68 with 2 minutes to go. But Krka's wake-up came too late.
Thursday, December 18, 2003