Panathinaikos came from behind to defeat European champion Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-76 in Athens on Tuesday in its opening game for the top-16 of the Euroleague.
Victory was crucial for Panathinaikos as it could hardly afford to lose its opening home game in this ever-so-tight group in the second stage of the competition.
Maccabi led for most of the game at the Olympic Sports Hall, stretching its advantage up to 14 points in the first half (32-18), and finished the second quarter with a four-point lead (43-39). Panathinaikos seemed disorientated in defense while Maccabi were superior in rebounds.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, that finished 60-64, with Maccabi seeming destined to win in Athens, until James Gist and AJ Slaughter turned the tide of the game in the host’s favor.
Panathinaikos led for the first time five minutes from the end (70-68) as the Greens tightened their defense to bring the game on a knife’s edge. With a partial score of 23-12 in the last quarter, the Greens eventually turned things around to win by seven in the end.
Esteban Batista (pictured) scored 16 points for Panathinaikos, with Gist and Slaughter notching up 15 each.
Notably, when former Panathinaikos player Sofoklis Schortsanitis first entered the court many Panathinaikos fans offered him a warm applause.
On Friday Olympiakos visits Unicaja Malaga for its first game in its top-16 group.