Olympiakos has for the first time finished the first group stage of the Euroleague unbeaten, after completing the 10-game phase with a win at Zielona Gora in Poland on Thursday, while Panathinaikos suffered a home loss to Maccabi after a quite poor showing.
As the two Greek giants are bracing for their knock-out cup semifinal on Monday, at Panathinaikos’s home court, they seemed to have saved some of their strength for their face-off that will likely determine the destination of one of the season’s titles.
Yet while Panathinaikos suffered a home loss at the hands of Maccabi with a 68-55 score, Olympiakos won 91-80 and maintained its unbeaten record in all competitions this season after 23 games by overcoming a rather mediocre team in its maiden year in the Euroleague.
Despite the absence of Giorgos Printezis and Mirza Begic, who served their suspension, the Reds led virtually throughout the game in Poland as their host was not as strong in defense as it was when the two times first met in Piraeus.
Led by Stratos Perperoglou, scorer of 23 points on the night, Olympiakos showed once again that it can win even when it does not play any spectacular basketball or its focus is not in the game.
The hosts had no answer to an efficient Vassilis Spanoulis, who scored 17 points and gave six assists, or Matt Lojeski, who notched up 18 points.
Panathinaikos was desperately poor in its shooting against Maccabi at the Olympic Sports Hall, scoring just 35 points in the first 30 minutes of the game, after which it trailed 58-35. At one point it had 0 out of 10 three-pointers, the shot category that usually determines the Greens’ fate in a game.
In the last period Panathinaikos attempted a fight-back, but it simply was not its night. It cut the deficit to 11 points (58-47), but could not get any closer.
As if the absences of Nikos Pappas and Jonas Maciulis were not enough, Panathinaikos also saw Roko Ukic suffer an injury and withdraw before the end of the first half.
Stephane Lasme was the only Panathinaikos player to have a good game, with 16 points.