Panathinaikos beat Zalgiris 84-76 at home in its opening game for the new Euroleague on Friday, but showed that it has a long way to go before it can reach the standards its coach and fans desire.
The Lithuanians challenged the Greeks all the way at the Olympic Sports Hall as their offensive rebounds and constant pressing frustrated Panathinaikos in long periods of the game.
The naive defending of the hosts allowed the Kaunas team to enjoy more possessions and dictate the pace of the game at times in front of half-empty stands.
Panathinaikos advanced 22-15 and 37-30 at half-time, but Zalgiris fought back to lead by four in the second half (52-48).
At that point it was Nikos Pappas who made the difference, with great work in both defense and offense, scoring 10 points in the last quarter and 19 in total.
Nick Calathes and Chris Singleton added 13 points each, contributing in what ended up as an eight-point win.
Panathinaikos now has the challenge of the Greek derby with Olympiakos for the Basket League on Monday in Piraeus.