After waiting almost seven years to see a player score at least 40 points in a EuroLeague game, we now had players accomplish that feat in back-to-back rounds. Tyrese Rice shined for Panathinakos OPAP Athens in a thrilling Greek derby last night, netting 41 points.
Rice tied four players – Bobby Brown, Kaspars Kambala, Carlton Myers and Alphonso Ford – for the second most points scored in a single EuroLeague game this century, behind only Shane Larkin's record 49 from a week ago in Round 11.
Rice was grasping the game ball after the Greens beat Olympiacos Piraeus 99-93 in overtime.
"I gotta take it home, it is a milestone game", he said.
His head coach Rick Pitino called his performance "awesome", and it really was, although nothing suggested what we will witness in the early going because Rice was scoreless until netting just two free throws in the final minute of the first quarter.
However, he went on to score 16 points in the second quarter, including a last-second three-pointer over Vassilis Spanoulis. Rice remained scoreless in the third quarter, but then strung together 11 points to open an 8-point Panathinaikos lead in the fourth.
Rice finished regulation with 34 points, then scored 7 more in overtime, including a three-pointer to open the extra session, and a driving runner to cap a 7-0 run which put Panathinaikos up 96-91, lead it never relinquished.
"Can't say enough about Tyrese, big shot after big shot", said Nick Calathes after the game about his teammate.
Rice is no stranger to great accomplishments. The 2014 Final Four MVP when he led Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv to the EuroLeague title, Rice has also been EuroCup champion and MVP with Khimki Moscow Region.
Last night he did not win a title or an award, but Rice set Panathinaikos club record in points scored, and another one with 8 three-pointers made. And with arch-rival Olympiacos on the opposite side, it will be a night that will long be remembered.