Panathinaikos got the Gist of it

James Gist led Panathinaikos to an impressive comeback and victory against Lietuvos Rytas with a 80-72 score on Thursday, in the first game the Greens played at their court in Athens in this season’s Euroleague.

With center Stephane Lasme missing the game, the Greek champion trailed by 13 points at half-time, but produced a remarkable turnaround in the second half as American stars Gist and Mike Batiste filled in for the injured player from Gabon.

The Lithuanian team came to Greece well prepared and shook off the pressure from the home fans in this first game in Athens after the end of Panathinaikos’s two-game exile to Cyprus and Crete.

Lietuvos broke away from halfway through the first period as Panathinaikos had no energy in defense and could not find the target outside the 6.75-meter line. As a result the Greeks scored no more than 25 points in the first half to trail 38-25.

The second half was completely different, with the Greens getting much more committed to their defense and turning more prolific in attack as the Lithuanians were unable to contain a mesmerizing Gist and an efficient Jonas Maciulis.

Lietuvos Rytas led 46-36 before Panathinaikos scored 14 unanswered points to advance 50-46 at the end of the third quarter.

With the momentum on their side the hosts pushed ever harder to lead 74-64 and brushed aside a last-ditch effort by Lietuvos that reduced its arrears to just three points (75-72) to win by eight in the end.

Gist did everything in the court on the night, both in defense and in attack, equalling his personal Euroleague record of 24 points. Maciulis added another 16 in this third Panathinaikos win in six group games.

In the Eurocup on Tuesday PAOK defeated Buducnost 75-69 in Podgorica while on Wednesday Panionios lost 84-77 at Radnicki Kragujevac.

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