2008 Top 16 profile: Panathinaikos

Jan 30, 2008 by Euroleague.net Print

Regular Season:
1st, Group C, 12-2

Team Rankings
4th points
4th 2-point %
1st 3-point %
5th assists
21st Fouls received

Zeljko Obradovic
Zeljko Obradovic
Defending champion Panathinaikos spent the regular season guaranteeing its status as the team to beat until some other is able to take the trophy from its hands. The Greens mowed through their group with seven victories out of the gate then streaked for five more in a row to finish tied for the regular season's best record despite an overtime loss in the last game. Along the way, they ranked among the four best scoring teams in the regular season and made a higher percentage of three-point shots than any other. But perhaps most remarkable about Panathinaikos - and perhaps the hardest thing for opponents to deal with - is that so many players contribute. Despite some injuries, 11 players score between 5 and 14 points a game. And despite having two former Final Four MVPs, Dimitris Diamantidis and Sarunas Jasikevicius, any of the others could - and did - deliver knockout punches. Panathinaikos succeeded in winning 12 games without a single player ranked among the league's best 20 in performance index rating, scoring or rebounds. Diamantidis did so in steals, assists and blocks, but even so, the team-first orientation of the Greens could not have been clearer. Panathinaikos keeps proving that a team with star talent can win without a star system. Six different players led the team in scoring in a regular season game, just as six different rebounders led in that category. Eight players shared in those accolades: Diamantidis, Jasikevicius, Vassilis Spanoulis, Mike Batiste, Sani Becirovic, Kostas Tsartsaris, Demos Dikoudis and Winston Kennedy. Only one player, Diamantidis, started more than two-thirds of the team's regular season games.
Panathinaikos celebrates
Panathinaikos celebrates
That Diamantidis, a guard, leads the Greens in rebounds points up a contradiction in the team's success. Only two Top 16 teams rebounded worse than Panathinaikos, and none had fewer offensive boards. Still, low offensive rebounding is explained by the team's high offensive efficiency: besides making the highest rate of triples, the Greens also ranked fourth in two-point shooting percentage and seventh at the foul line, where they attempted and made more free throws than any other team. On the defensive glass, Panathinaikos ranked a respectable eighth, which is 10 places better than a year ago at the end of a regular season when they were champs. In other words, Panathinaikos is improving on last year, a scary thought for would-be challengers.

Panathinaikos head coach Zeljko Obradovic: "The Euroleague Top 16 is always difficult. We are talking about the best 16 teams of the competition, so it is not important against whom you have to play. All 16 competitors have high motivation to get the highest position possible and make the playoffs, so we have to be prepared for six battles. Montepaschi Siena is a very good team, while Efes Pilsen has many foreign players and generally showed high quality. As for Partizan Belgrade, we have faced them twice in the regular season, so we know how tough they are as a team. Knowing how important the Top 16 is, Panathinaikos will be ready to face each opponent at a time and fight for every single basket, which can be very crucial at the end."
Panathinaikos team manager Manos Papadopoulos: "We had a strong group again for the Top 16. However, our goal is to take the title again and that will only depend on us and how we play."