SPORTS

Panathinaikos makes Piraeus court its 'second home'

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

“Exochiko”, Greek for holiday/countryside home, is the nickname Panathinaikos fans have attached to the Olympiakos home court of Peace and Friendship Stadium, due to the numerous times the Greens have scored precious victories at their biggest rivals’ pad. On Friday it was the third consecutive time, all within six months, that Panathinaikos won in Piraeus, this time for the Euroleague, with a 70-62 score.

After two bad losses at Barcelona and CSKA Moscow and a narrow one at Baskonia (plus the Greek Cup loss at AEK), Panathinaikos got to score its first away win in this season’s Euroleague right where it is most hated, and where it loves winning most, as Olympiakos remained a shadow of its usual self for a third game in a row after the loss at Barcelona and the narrow win at Aris.

In a match of poor shooting rates and rather slow pace, Panathinaikos was more composed from the outset, leading 11-2, and when the Piraeus team temporarily went ahead 17-16 the Athens giant responded with a solid second period that saw it lead 35-30 at half-time.

With the exception of a blip in the third period when the Reds briefly led 47-44, the Greens were ahead throughout the second half too, taking their distance up to 12 points, without feeling threatened at all in the end by an Olympiakos that continues to miss its captain, Vassilis Spanoulis.

Olympiakos only had Janis Strelnieks on a good night (18 points, 3/5 triples), but even he went quiet in the last 12 minutes of the match.

Panathinaikos, on the other hand, got a great boost from Lukas Lekavicius (14 points) and the usual precious input from KC Rivers (12 points), but it was James Gist who stood out with his 15 points and six rebounds – the Peace and Friendshp Stadium is his “exochiko” too.

In the Basketball Champions League PAOK lost 69-64 at home to Tenerife, Aris went down 83-61 at Besiktas and AEK lost 80-78 at Strasbourg.

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