Panathinaikos, playing without a head coach, very nearly upset Euroleague favorite CSKA Moscow to go down by four in the end on Friday, while Olympiakos thrashed Turkey’s Efes Anadolu by 24 on Thursday for its first win in the new Euroleague.
CSKA won 81-77 in Moscow as Panathinaikos beat expectations and gave the Russians a good run for their money, despite undergoing a crisis during the week with the 25-point league loss at Olympiakos on Monday and the departure of coach Argyris Pedoulakis on Tuesday.
Still in talks with former Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual about hiring the Spaniard for the next three years, Panathinaikos went to Moscow fearing the worst against arguably the hottest team in the Euroleague. Instead it matched its host and even led 68-63 in the last quarter, before conceding 11 unanswered points that settled the game for the Russians.
Former CSKA player Demetris Nichols notched up 20 points for Panathinaikos, with KC Rivers adding another 16.
Olympiakos dismissed Efes 90-66 thanks to a breathtaking performance that filled its fans at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus with hopes for a great season.
The Reds advanced 38-19 and fended off a Turkish comeback (46-40) by opening the gap through its free scoring that Efes could do nothing about.
Captain Vassilis Spanoulis scored 17 points to take his career tally beyond the 3,000-point mark in the Euroleague, only the second player ever to have done so. Giorgos Printezis added 15 on the night.
Three Greek teams entered the newly created FIBA Champions League this week: AEK defeated Szolnoki 92-49 and Aris returned from Slovenia with a 62-54 victory over Helios on Tuesday, while PAOK lost 93-85 at Rosa Radom on Wednesday.