Poor start, lack of scoring cost PAO its Final Four spot

A disastrous first period at the Palau Blaugrana cost Panathinaikos its elimination from the Euroleague as Barcelona overcame its great opponent with a 64-53 score on Thursday to advance to the competition’s Final Four with a 3-2 score in the play-off series.

The Greeks also felt hard done by the referees of the game, as for instance they ensured captain Dimitris Diamantidis had three personal fouls from the fifth minute of the game, with the second and the third being particularly harsh decisions.

Panathinaikos tried to beat the Barcelona defense through attempting several three-point shots but it just was not its shooters’ night, as they made just one out of 16 shots outside the 6.75-meter line.

Even so the Greens managed to threaten Barcelona with elimination thanks to its good defense from the second quarter onward.

Barcelona had a fantastic first quarter scoring 28 points in 10 minutes to lead with a double score (28-14). The margin grew to 19 points (37-18 and 42-23) in the second quarter, but Panathinaikos reduced the arrears to 11 points (44-33) at half-time.

The improved Greek defense in the third quarter held Barcelona to just seven points, but its own 10 points only reduced the margin to eight (51-43).

Having clawed back to six points (51-45 and 59-53), Panathinaikos could not find the long-distance shots that would have given it victory in Spain, allowing Barcelona to get away with scoring just 64 points at home.

Stephane Lasme was the top scorer for the Greens with 16 points, on a night when Sofoklis Schortsanitis had no points and Diamantidis no more than six.

The European season is over for Panathinaikos, but the Greens have beaten expectations by challenging Barcelona all the way for a ticket to the Final Four, given that this is a new team built last summer from scratch with a new coach in Argyris Pedoulakis and 12 out of 14 players also being new to the club.