SPORTS

Reds lose in Istanbul, Greens sweat to beat Unics

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos went down at Fenerbahce on Thursday in a game it should have won in Istanbul given its double-digit lead, while Panathinaikos chalked up a hard-fought win over the Russians of Unics on Friday at home thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by Mike James.

Olympiakos let a great chance to beat Fenerbahce away slip through its collective fingers, going down 67-64 in Turkey, but managed to retain a supreme head-to-head record over the Istanbul team.

The Reds paid for the absence of captain Vassilis Spanoulis from one more game this season, as they failed to hold on to their 11-point advantage (58-47) at the start of the fourth quarter.

Fenerbahce outplayed the Greeks in the latter part of the encounter to turn the game on its head and grab victory that consolidates it in the top four of the Euroleague table.

Costas Papanikolaou (13 points and eight rebounds) and Erick Green (17 points) were the best players for Olympiakos on the night.

Reports in Greece on Friday went as far as saying that Olympiakos preferred to lose to ensure Panathinaikos stays behind Fenerbahce at the standings. The Reds are currently third on 16 wins, Fenerbahce has 15 and Panathinaikos lies fifth with 14, with seven games left to play in the regular season.

The Greens had to work hard to beat outsider Unics Kazan 83-82 in Athens less than a week after lifting the Greek Cup – which may well have affected their concentration in this game.

Panathinaikos had serious problems in defense and attack against the Russians who led 46-39 at half-time taking advantage of their excellent shooting rate while the Greeks suffered.

The third period ended with Unics going up by nine (61-52), but the hosts bounced back to equalize 65-65 and 80-80. The visitors led once again 82-80 seven seconds from time, but James took a three-point shot 0.9 seconds from the end to become the hero of the night.

Yiannis Bouroussis scored 15 points and Chris Singleton notched up 14.

In the FIBA Champions League all three Greek teams advanced to the last 16 of the competition, as Aris protected its 19-point lead from the home leg losing 81-70 at Strasbourg, AEK strolled to a second win over Juventus Utena, this time with a 75-54 score at home, and PAOK did it the hard way, reversing its two-point loss at home with a four-point victory (82-78) at Partizan Belgrade.

In the round of 16 AEK will face Monaco, Aris will clash with Villeurbanne and PAOK will meet Tenerife.

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