Panathinaikos edges out Caja Laboral in the end

Panathinaikos returned to the top of its pool in the Euroleague, beating Spain’s Caja Laboral 76-74 on February 17 at home.

The result means that if Panathinaikos beats Lietuvos Rytas at home and Malaga away in its two remaining games for the top-16 of the competition, it will finish first and have the home advantage in the all-important playoffs for the Final Four.

The Greens were on top for virtually the entire game at the Olympic Sports Hall in Maroussi, although the team from the Basque Country troubled the hosts with its excellent shooting outside the three-point line – at one point in the first half it had nine out of 15, a 60 percent rate.

With Antonis Fotsis as its leading man (22 points, 11 rebounds, three steals), Panathinaikos led 40-39 at half-time and needed 10 unanswered points in the third period to break away from the Vitoria-based team (59-48).

Yet Caja Laboral got back on level terms with just seconds to go (74-74), before Mike Batiste scored two free throws for the final 76-74 score.

Fernando San Emeterio did get a foul in the end but neither of his free throws hit their target.

He had already scored 19 points, while David Logan had scored 21 including five three-pointers.

After Fotsis, Batiste and Drew Nicholas helped Panathinaikos’s scoring with 12 points each.

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