Despite already being eliminated from the Last 16 race, Panionios BC Athens took its pride on the road to defeat host Stelmet Zielona Gora 84-85 to close out the Eurocup Regular Season for both teams on Wednesday. Panionios raised its final record to 2-4. Already-qualified Zielona Gora finished 3-3 and is going to the Last 16 as the second-place team from Group F. Zielona Gora scored the game's first basket but never again took the lead as Panionios fought off more than a dozen ties and stopped the hosts' last 2 shots to win at the buzzer. Rising star guard Nikos Pappas again led Panionios with 21 points, 3 steals and 3 assits. Chris Booker was right behind him with 20 points, 3 assists and 3 blocks as the winners held on. Walter Hodge had 24 points for Zielona Gora, while Quinton Hosely added 14, Rob Jones 12 and Oliver Stevic 11 plus 10 rebounds.
A 0-8 run early in the first quarter finished with Booker scoring his sixth point on a two-point jumper to push Panionios in front 4-10. Zielona Gora followed 4 points by Hodge to a 12-12 tie as the points kept falling. His triple a couple of minutes later knotted it up again, 17-17, and another in the final minute of the quarter made it 24-24. But despite 9 ties in the first 10 minutes, Zielona Gora could not take the lead as Vsileos Kavvadas hit a layup for a 24-26 Panionios advantage after one quarter. The scoring pace slowed in the second quarter, but Panionios boosted its lead to 26-33 on a three-pointer by Mark Payne. Again, when Zielona Gora got as close as 34-35 on shots by Mantas Cesnaukis and Rob Jones, Panionios pulled away, first on a triple by Marios Batis and then on baskets by Pappas and Booker to lead 38-42. Jones soon cut the difference to 42-44 with free throws in the final minute of the half, but Booker had another basket in him - making 18 points so far - to keep Panionios up 44-46 at the break.
The trend continued into the third quarter as points by Hosley and Hodge meant two more even scores, the last at 48-48, before Strahinja Dragicevic and Pappas comibined for 6 points to keep Zielona Gora down. This time, Panionios wasn't letting the hosts come back soon, as Payne, Batis and Pappas streched the run to 5-14 and a lead of 53-62. When Vlantimir Giankovits got in on the fun with 5 points in a row, which Pappas quickly followed with 5 of his own, the Panionios lead reached 11 points on the way to a 66-77 difference after 30 minutes. Panionios still led 68-81 with 7 minutes to play when Zielona Gora made its charge. Kamil Chanas, Jones and Adam Lapeta made two-pointers before Hodge drilled a shot from long range to pull the hosts within 77-81. Booker and Pappas answered with baskets for Panionios, but Chanas and Hodge combined for the next 5 points to make it 84-85 with 1:27 to play. There the scoring stopped, however, as two shots at the basket in the closing seconds, the second rejected by Giankovitz, both missed, sent Panionios home with a victory even though its Zielona Gora that will continue playing the Eurocup into 2013.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012