Panathinaikos ended up third in its Euroleague group after suffering a 78-77 defeat at Khimki in Russia, dictated by three referee decisions in the last 40 seconds of the game on Thursday.
Khimki was on top of things for most of the game, but when the Greens covered the gap the Russians had opened and challenged them for the win that would have seen them top the group, the referees gave two technical fouls against the Panathinaikos coach Argyris Pedoulakis and had him sent off, after he protested against a particularly harsh decision for an unsportsmanlike foul against Jonas Maciulis.
After a first half that ended 46-39 in the host’s favor, and an 11-point lead (54-43) that Khimki took in the third period, Panathinaikos fought back and the fourth period was full of lead changes.
Yet just as the score was at 74-74, the Greens felt they were once again robbed of victory by referee calls in the same way that had happened last spring against another Russian team, CSKA Moscow, in the 2012 Euroleague semifinal in Istanbul.
It was always going to be a tough night for Panathinaikos, given the absence of Roko Ukic and the injury to Sofoklis Schortsanitis very early in the game as he twisted his ankle.
Eventually Stephane Lasme stood out among the Greens with 19 points, followed by Marcus Banks with 15.
Panathinaikos is now looking ahead to a tough group in the competition’s top 16 and the incorporation of its new signing, shooter Jason Kapono.