Reds and Greens stay alive in Euroleague
By George Georgakopoulos
Easter – and home advantage – worked wonders for Panathinaikos and Olympiakos who stayed alive in the Euroleague play-offs beating CSKA and Real Madrid respectively on Monday in Greece.
Shaking off the uncharacteristically poor performance three days earlier in Moscow, Panathinaikos defeated CSKA 65-59 on Easter Monday and reduced its deficit in the best-of-five series to 2-1.
Panathinaikos was ahead virtually throughout this very tight match at the Olympic Sports Hall, advancing by as many as 12 points in the first half (25-13), with the Russians only leading once (at 58-59) in the game and never scoring again.
The Greens were frustrated in attack for several parts of the game, but their excellent work in defense, led by Stephane Lasme and Antonis Fotsis, along with the extra help by Zach Wright, allowed them to contain their typically high-scoring visitors to just 59 on the night.
Rebounds were key for Panathinaikos in a match that was highly reminiscent of the Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos league games.
Lasme scored 13 points and Wright 10. However Panathinaikos will need more from players such as James Gist, Mike Bramos and Ramel Curry in order to have any chance of seeing CSKA off in the series.
Dimitris Diamantidis distributed five assists to become the player with the highest number of career assists in the history of the Euroleague, overtaking another Greek, Thodoris Papaloukas.
Olympiakos gave its fans a wonderful show at the Peace and Friendship Stadium with its resourceful game that gave it a 78-76 win over Real Madrid for a 2-1 score in the Spaniards’ favor.
The Reds were far more prolific in attack than in Madrid last week featuring an unstoppable Bryant Dunston, scorer of 21 points with 9/10 two-pointers.
The Greeks advanced 23-15 after the first quarter and 45-38 at half-time as Real seemed affected by the atmosphere at the stadium and the hosts turned the pressure into energy.
As the time went on, Olympiakos let its advantage slip away with its visitors improving in defense and attack.
Real Madrid tried to nick the game right at the end, led 40 seconds from the end, but Olympiakos held on to win by two points and take the series to a fourth game.
Vassilis Spanoulis was the second scorer for Olympiakos, after Dunston, with 17 points.
Games 4 of the two series involving the two Greek teams are taking place in Greece on Wednesday.