Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens dished 18 assists in a playoffs-clinching game for the Greek powerhouse. Calathes contributed in many ways, and after being close many times, his 18 assists were part of the first triple-double in more than a decade in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Calathes set a new career-high in assists - his previous record was 16 in a playoffs game against Real Madrid last season.
When did it happen?
It was Regular Season Round 30 and Panathinaikos needed to beat Buducnost VOLI Podgorica to clinch a playoffs spot, regardless of other results. Panathinaikos entered that game with 6 wins in the previous 7 games, but had lost against Madrid in Round 29 on the buzzer. Panathinaikos bounced back in style, downing Buducnost 87-67 on April 4, 2019 and making sure it reached the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
Did you know?
Calathes finished the game with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 18 assists, becoming just the second player to get a triple-double. Nikola Vujcic managed to reach two triple-doubles in his legendary stint with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He had his first one - 11 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists - in a 95-68 home win against Prokom Trefl Sopot on November 3, 2005 and recorded another one - 27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists - when Maccabi beat Union Olimpija Ljubljana 110-87 on November 30, 2006.
Calathes had 18 assists against Buducnost, which is the second highest mark in EuroLeague history. The all-time record belongs to Stefan Jovic, who dished 19 assists on November 12, 2015 playing for Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade against FC Bayern Munich. Jovic ended up signing for Bayern. Calathes also has the fourth-best mark, 16 assists, against Real Madrid on April 17, 2018. It is still an all-time playoffs record.
Place in history
Those 18 assists helped Calathes finish the season with 286 in 33 games. That is a new all-time record for most assists in a full EuroLeague season. He broke his own previous record - Calathes dished 249 assists in the 2017-18 season. His assists average (8.7 apg.) is also the highest in competition history. Calathes has needed just 185 games to break the 1,000-assist mark and ranks seventh overall at 1,005. Vassilis Spanoulis is the all-time leader - 1,414.
What happened next
Panathinaikos reached the playoffs and faced Real Madrid for the second consecutive season, this time without the home-court advantage. Madrid swept the series and advanced to the Final Four, and Panathinaikos was eliminated in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. Calathes was chosen to the All-EuroLeague First Team for the second consecutive season, leading his team in PIR (15.8), points (12.2), rebounds (4.3) assists (8.7) and steals (1.7).