Order has been restored as Panathinaikos regained the home advantage in the Basket League play-off finals on Thursday beating Olympiakos 71-66 in Piraeus, for its fourth consecutive victory at its rival’s home court. The best-of-five final series is now tied at 1-1.
Game 2 was like a reversed image of Game 1, with the host being error-prone and the visitor imposing its game in defense and attack to add to its opponent’s nerves.
The first half was quite balanced, with Panathinaikos leading by a maximum margin of six points and half-time having Olympiakos up by three (43-40).
Yet the pace of the game changed from the third period as Panathinaikos worked harder in defense and Olympiakos only scored nine points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Unlike in Game 1, Panathinaikos was quite prolific in distance shots (7/18 triples) stretching its lead up to 13 points (65-52), and despite the last-ditch effort by Olympiakos to get back into the game (69-66) the Greens held on to a precious victory that has leveled the series and restores them as the favorites given their home advantage – for what that’s worth anyway.
Guards Nick Calathes (18 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Mike James (17 points, five rebounds) were instrumental to Panathinaikos. Ioannis Papapetrou had 13 points for Olympiakos.
Game 3 will take place at the Olympic Sports Hall on Sunday.
Before and after the match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus there were clashes between Olympiakos fans and the police, with at least seven fans arrested for trying to storm the Panathinaikos locker room and fighting with riot police, that also used tear gas. It remains unknown whether Game 4 will take place with or without fans at the stands in Piraeus.
In the battle for the third spot, PAOK added a second win over Promitheas, winning 100-61 at home on Wednesday and needs just one victory to win the series.