Panathinaikos decided to cure a couple ills before the break in the Euroleague schedule by blowing out visiting Zadar 102-64 in Athens on Thursday. Panathinaikos seemed to be very annoyed by its two consecutive losses, one each in the Euroleague and the Greek League, so Zeliko Obradovic's players responded with a show of dominance. Damir Mulaomerovic, starting at shooting guard against his Croatian compatriots, rung up a 20-points scoring performance, just what the Greens needed after so much reliance on Dejan Bodiroga. The victory lifted Panathinaikos to 5-1 in Group C, good for a first-place tie with Real Madrid. Zadar, which got 13 points from young Marko Popovic, slipped to 1-5.
Panathinaikos started the game using Pepe Sanchez at point and Damir Mulaomerovic as a shoting guard, the better for both to pass the ball to the big men, and achieved a 6-1 lead after three minutes. Marco Popovic, who substituted american veteran Rumeal Robinson, hit 7 points giving Zadar a short lead at 8-9. Indeed the he first quarter was even and gave no hint of what was to come as Panathinaikos led by only 17-15 after 10 minutes.
Panathinaikos needed its natural leader to do better, so when Bodiroga got in, he sparked a 9-0 run to 11-point lead, 26-15. Zadar tried to react as Davor Marcelic, Tomislav Ruzic, and Popovic sored one triple each, cutting the margin to 34-29 two minutes before halftime. Robinson joined the fun with his own three-pointer to make it 36-32, but Panathinaikos used its frontline strength, especially with Corey Albano scoring 8 points in the quarter, and a long strike by Sanchez to go into the lockerroom up by seven.
A 19-4 run by Panathinaikos in the first four minutes of the third period was enough for the Greens to crash Zadar giving the Greek fans the opportunity to applause the defensive performance probably for the first time in a Euroleague game. Ibrahim Kutluay who suffered by a sprained ankle earlier this week but finally played, was the offensive leader as he scored ten of his 12 points the quarter. Mulaomerovic and Sanchez kept on bombing from the three-point line and Bodiroga was hot doing his fancy tricks with the ball. Zadar was unalble to react as the score exploded 78-49 at the end of the quarter and sentenced the outcome.
Thursday, November 15, 2001