Panathinaikos has all but secured the top spot in the regular season of the A1 league, and the home advantage in the play-offs that comes with it, after beating archrival Olympiakos 58-48 on Monday.
The tense game at the Olympic Sports Hall – the third of many that the two teams will play this season being also in the same Euroleague group – saw Olympiakos try to fend off the Greens’ invasions in the paint, but it was unable to find its pace in attack, dropping to below 50 points.
Panathinaikos, on the other hand, owes its triumph to the energy and passion shown by James Gist and Ramel Curry, scorers of 10 and 12 points respectively, and has now opened a three-point gap from the Reds with 12 games left to play.
This was the second time Panathinaikos has beaten Olympiakos in the last month, after its eight-point home win for the Cup on December 23.
Olympiakos has now slumped to third, as Panionios rose back up to second through its 92-70 home win over Panelefsiniakos on Sunday.
On the contrary, the bottom of the table looks tighter than ever, as the last six teams are within just one point. Ikaros Halkidas came off the bottom with a precious 89-78 home win over AGO Rethymnou, while Apollon Patras defeated host Ilisiakos 76-67 to avoid dropping into the relegation zone, where Ikaros and Ilisiakos currently are.
Nea Kifissia is now joint fifth after beating fellow promoted club Trikala 97-85, to go level on points with KAO Dramas that lost 77-59 at Aris, in the first game that the Thessaloniki side played with Serb coach Milan Minic on its bench.
Kolossos appears to have steered clear of trouble for now downing visiting PAOK 62-49 on Rhodes, to beat both Thessaloniki teams within one week after winning at Aris.