The double week in the Euroleague has started with defeats for Greece’s representatives against Spanish opposition, as Panathinaikos went down at home to Barcelona and Olympiakos suffered a 25-point mauling at Baskonia.
The impressive debit of Mario Hezonja did not suffice for Panathinaikos to contain table-topping Barcelona in Athens on Tuesday, going down 85-77 with a fight.
Missing their captain Ioannis Papapetrou and their top scorer Nemanja Nedovic, the Greens relied on new arrival Hezonja who scored 21 points and earned nine fouls in 29 minutes. He gave the team’s fans a whopping prospect not only for the rest of this season but also for the following one, as in his statements he hinted he wishes to stay on.
Barcelona led throughout the game but could not kill the context off until very late as the hosts refused to concede, also thanks to the 14 points by Ben Bentil. On his return to Athens, Barcelona’s Nick Calathes scored nine points.
The Greens now have a 9-16 record, while Olympiakos is on 11-16 after its seventh straight loss, this time a 91-66 reverse at Baskonia on Wednesday.
The Reds advanced by up to 10 points (25-15 early in the second period), but then crumbled against a significantly superior host that scored at will afterward, with 76 points scored in about 28 minutes.
The picture of the game showed that once the rotation started the Olympiakos bench (including a visibly aging Vassilis Spanoulis) could not sustain the solid performance of the starting five, while Baskonia also enjoyed an impressive 27 assists with its great team game.
Livio Jean-Charles made 15 points and Octavius Elis another 12 for Olympiakos, that played without Giorgos Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Hassan Martin.