Panathinaikos wasted a great chance it created for itself for a historic break in Madrid, but eventually lost 75-72 in Game 1 of the Euroleague play-offs on Wednesday. It will have another opportunity for that on Friday.
Real Madrid made the most of the home advantage at the start of the best-of-five series that leads to the Final Four to overturn a Panathinaikos six-point lead four minutes from the end, but the Greens have now seen they could make it next time, i.e. in Game 2.
The hosts were on top throughout the match up to the last quarter, advancing by up to 14 points (49-35) early in the second half. However the contribution of players coming from the bench was precious this time for coach Rick Pitino, allowing Panathinaikos to eat into its deficit and turn the 64-56 in Real’s favor to a 69-64 lead with 13 unanswered points, and a maximum advantage of six (72-66) a little later.
However the inconsistent on the night Nick Calathes made some hurried choices in attack, some referee calls appeared to favor Real Madrid especially in some Calathes fouls, the Spanish were perfect in free throws at the end and reversed the situation with nine points without reply to win the game by the skin of their teeth.
The Greens showed plenty of energy in defense, forcing Real to take too many three-pointers (35) on a night when it had a shooting rate of just 28.6 percent outside the 6.75-meter line. They also showed great commitment in rebounds, outshining Real with 39 against 38.
Calathes was the top scorer of the match with 17 points, but with 6/19 field goals, and DeShaun Thomas added another 12 for the Greeks.