SPORTS

Greek teams drifting away from their Euroleague target

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

Panathinaikos coach Xavi Pascual is under growing pressure.

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos and Panathinaikos suffered painful losses in the Euroleague this week, to see the target of a top-four finish grow ever more distant.

With upsets here, there and everywhere in this unpredictable season, the Greek teams are slipping out of contention for the privileged spots at the table and will have to work hard to ensure they make the play-offs, i.e. the top eight of the regular season.

The Reds went down 83-75 at Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday to stay on six wins in 11 games.

The Greeks had an impeccable first half (zero turnovers) to lead 48-40 at half-time, but they somehow switched off after the interval and let the team masterfully guided by coach Sarunas Jasikevicius get back into the game and win comfortably in the end.

Giorgos Printezis made 18 points and Zach LeDay another 15, but the Reds badly need Nikola Milutinov to return to top form (just four points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of play).

Panathinaikos suffered a 12-point loss (81-69) at home to Euroleague leader Fenerbahce on Friday for its second defeat in Athens, and it’s still early December.

The Turkish team won the game courtesy of its amazing triple shooting rate (13 out of 21, i.e. 62 percent, against Panathinaikos’s 25 percent), scoring at will outside the 6.75-meter line every time the Greens closed the distance or equalized.

The match was marked by the return to high scoring by Nick Calathes midway through the third period, switching from zero points to the Greens’ top scorer with 14 points in a period and a half. However neither his nor the 13 points each by Matt Lojeski and Nikos Pappas sufficed for the Greek champion to avoid its sixth loss in 11 matches.

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