Superb Greens succumb in overtime at Barcelona

Panathinaikos came ever so close to snatching an opening win in the Euroleague playoffs at Barcelona on Tuesday, but eventually lost 72-70 to its host in overtime.

The game was only the first in the best-of-five series for a spot in the Final Four, with Barcelona holding the home advantage. Game 2 will follow on Thursday, again in Spain.

The Greens played one of their best games this season and stunned their opponents, who had the best record in the second stage of the competition, by leading by up to 12 points at the start (14-2).

The Catalans tried time and again to get back into the game but the Greens held on to their lead for most of the match, edging forward 44-36 during the third period.

However, the poor record the Greeks had in free throws (just 46.7 percent) and certain referee decisions that favored the home side deprived the Greek Cup winner of its lead and saw Barcelona lead 64-61 in the last minute of the game, until a Dimitris Diamantidis three-pointer sent the match to overtime.

Barcelona improved its defense to contain the spectacular front line of Panathinaikos consisting of Stephane Lasme and James Gist, and win by two in the end, as the last-ditch effort by Roko Ukic for a three-pointer from the halfway line did not find the target.

Lasme and Gist had 14 points each for Panathinaikos, with Diamantidis adding another 10.