SPORTS

Greens rule in Moscow on a Calathes buzzer beater

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Panathinaikos stunned Europe with a famous road win at CSKA Moscow on Friday to give its chances for a play-off berth a real boost, while Olympiakos continued to slump going down at Armani Milano on Thursday. The two Greek teams are now joint eighth.

In the context of uncertainty about the course of the Greek league, with Olympiakos refusing to play Panathinaikos in Piraeus on Sunday unless foreign referees are brought in, the Greens recorded the big away win they had been looking for all season, downing CSKA in Russia for the first time in nine years, with a 78-77 score.

The Greek champion owes the victory to a buzzer-beating triple by captain Nick Calathes from eight meters out, that needed the board to go in and gifted Panathinaikos its fourth consecutive victory in Europe.

Transformed by Rick Pitino, the Athens giant was reminiscent of past glories in Moscow, playing a tight defense and making a large share of shots (9/16 triples) against one of the most prolific teams in Europe.

Crucially, Panathinaikos managed to come twice from behind and prove its real worth when it trailed 49-39 to advance 58-57, and when CSKA went 74-67 up to score a partial 11-3 and snatch its 13th victory in 26 games.

Amazingly Calathes had 1/5 three-pointers until 0.3 seconds from the end, but still tried a shot over a meter out of the three-point line and made it to win the game for the Greens. He totaled 11 points, second only to DeShaun Thomas with 12.

Olympiakos is showing the exactly opposite picture: Dejected and disorganized, distracted from its fight with the Greek federation, and unfortunate to lose Vassilis Spanoulis due to injury halfway through the game, the Piraeus team went down 66-57 at Armani Milano and will need to work hard even to make the play-offs, although it had originally looked good for a top-four finish.

Although they managed to contain high-scoring Armani to 66 points throughout the match, and to just four in the second period, the Reds always looked second-best at Milan, especially after Spanoulis came off injured.

The 23-23 half-time score gave the visitors some hope, but the Italian team has a Mike James who was once again unstoppable and did most of the damage at the Olympiakos defense.

With its three headline Greek players (Spanoulis, Giorgos Printezis and Costas Papanikolaou) ending the game on 11 points in total, the Reds stood no chance in Italy. They did have Nikola Milutinov make 13 and Sasha Vezenkov add another 10 though.

In the Basketball Champions League AEK overcame PAOK despite its 63-62 home loss on Wednesday, as it had won by nine in the first leg at Thessaloniki. The holder will now face Brose Bamberg in the quarterfinals. Promitheas Patras lost 79-57 at Tenerife, failing to defend its 12-point lead from the home leg.

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