Nick Calathes was unstoppable on the night for Panathinaikos.
Panathinaikos trounced Real Madrid in Game 1 of the Euroleague play-offs on Tuesday in Athens, while Zalgiris Kaunas got the better of Olympiakos for the third time this season snatching the home advantage from the Reds on Wednesday.
The Athens giant played a near-perfect game in front of a capacity crowd of over 18,000 fans at the Olympic Sports Hall to win 95-67, as the Spaniards seemed to have major problems both in defense and in attack in the absence of some key players – who will also miss Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Thursday.
Panathinaikos had a dream start in the first five minutes leading 20-0, and never allowed its visitor to get any closer than eight points (29-21).
Led by the tremendous pair of Nick Calathes and Mike James, who offered spectacular plays and were directly or indirectly responsible for 73 out of the team’s 95 points, the Greens were simply invincible on the night. They had so much energy, such great focus on the game and amazing shooting rates, to lead by up to 33 points (77-44) in the club’s biggest ever victory over Real Madrid.
Impressively Panathinaikos fared better from the 6.75-meter line (54.5 percent) than in free throws (53.8 percent).
James made 24 points and Calathes added another 11 plus a Euroleague play-off record 16 assists. Yet holding Madrid’s star Luka Doncic to just 10 points was a team achievement.
Olympiakos also had a dream start to its game with Zalgiris but eventually went down in overtime to the Lithuanians for the second time in 12 days, with an 87-78 score.
The Reds led 23-8 late in the first quarter, but the absence of Costas Papanikolaou and the injuries to a couple of other players in the course of the game stole the hosts’ thunder from the second period onward.
Vassilis Spanoulis had 25 points (plus nine assists) and nearly won the game for the Greeks, but the game went to overtime (72-72) where a tired Olympiakos was unable to match Zalgiris.
There was more bad news for the Reds on the night as Giorgos Printezis, Nikola Milutinov and Janis Strelnieks are doubtful for Game 2 on Friday in Piraeus due to injuries, while Papanikolaou is certain to miss it.