Vaughn spares Panathinaikos upset at Drama

By George Georgakopoulos

The Greek league kept basketball fans on the edge of their seats for one more round of games, this time in midweek, as Panionios lost to Nea Kifissia and with it the second spot at the table to Olympiakos, while Panathinaikos won at Drama by the skin of its collective teeth.

KAO Dramas had already beaten Olympiakos and Panionios at home this season, and on Wednesday came within a whisker of beating leader Panathinaikos too.

However, the last free throw of regulation time, with two tenths of a second left, by former Georgetown star Julian Vaughn did not find the target, the score stayed at 72-72 and Panathinaikos won the game 87-85 in overtime for its 16th consecutive win in the league.

The Greens of Athens are now three points clear at the top as Olympiakos has joined Panionios in second (with a superior head-to-head record) through the Reds’ comfortable home win over Kolossos Rhodes 77-68 on Wednesday and Panionios’s defeat to Nea Kifissia with a 64-60 score.

That was the eighth victory for promoted Nea Kifissia in the last nine games, that is pushing for a top-four finish given it currently lies in fifth.

There was more edge-of-seat stuff at Patra and Trikala. PAOK defeated Apollon Patras 81-77 in a tense game to stay alone in fourth, while Trikala won one of the day’s two relegation battles defeating Ilisiakos 88-87 at home.

The other battle between struggling teams saw Panelefsiniakos see off bottom club Ikaros Halkidas at Elefsina with a 71-60 score.

Aris pulled itself out of trouble with a 73-67 home win over AGO Rethymnou and is now turning its attention to Sunday’s final of the Greek Cup where it will face Panathinaikos at Iraklio, on Crete.