Olympiakos is looking good for winning its Euroleague group after stretching its unbeaten record to four games with a 62-57 victory at Red Star Belgrade on Friday, while Panathinaikos made it three wins in four with an emphatic 90-63 win over Armani Milano.
In an unusually friendly atmosphere for the visitors in Belgrade, due to the close relationship of Red Star fans with those of Olympiakos, the Piraeus team nearly blew away its lead toward the end but pulled through for a precious win where rivals will likely falter.
After a balanced first quarter Olympiakos pulled away to lead 37-26 at half-time, with captain Vassilis Spanoulis (scorer of 14 points) being once again the leading figure for the team of coach Yiannis Sfairopoulos.
Boosted by 22,000 fans the hosts came back though, and challenged the Greeks all the way to the end, but could not get any closer than two points (59-57) from Olympiakos, who made its experience tell when it really mattered in the same way it had done at Neptunas a week earlier.
Panathinaikos seemed to pick up from where it had left off a week earlier when it thrashed Fenerbahce, also at home, as it produced some impressive basketball to advance 44-30 at half-time.
In the second half the Greens stretched their lead more, appearing unstoppable at times. The end of the third quarter saw them double their advantage to 28 points (71-43) and the final margin of 27 may have even been kind to an Armani that was also outclassed in rebounds (37 against 23).
Esteban Batista led the scoring for Panathinaikos with 15 points, but Dimitris Diamantidis scored six points (1/1 three pointers, 3/3 free throws), collected seven rebounds and distributed eight assists for a great all-around performance.