SPORTS

Spectacular show by the Greens, while the Reds lose in Spain

Panathinaikos thrashed Real Madrid in Athens on Friday to boost its chances for a playoff spot, but Olympiakos’s loss at Laboral Kutxa means that probably neither Greek team will have home advantage in the Euroleague quarterfinals.

Panathinaikos recovered from its losses to Barcelona at home and Zalgiris away to defeat group leader Real Madrid 85-69 and get to within one victory from qualifying to the playoffs of the competition: It needs to beat Alba Berlin at home.

Leading virtually throughout the match at the Olympic Sports Hall, the Greens produced a spectacular all-around performance, especially in the second half. After advancing 41-35 at half-time led by an impressive James Gist – who has just renewed his contract until 2017 – Panathinaikos outplayed the Spaniards stretching its lead to unimaginable levels in the second half.

With Nikos Pappas scoring 22 points and DeMarcus Nelson another 16, the Greens went ahead by as many as 20 points (78-58), before ending the game with a 16-point margin, with Real Madrid resigned to its fate in the last period.

Olympiakos suffered its second straight defeat, going down 74-73 to Laboral Kutxa in Spain, as the absence of captain Vassilis Spanoulis made the difference particularly in the last few minutes of the game.

The encounter at the Fernando Buesa Arena was actually rather mediocre, but ever so tight. Turnovers came one after another from both teams that appeared too nervous to produce a game worthy of the Euroleague.

The Reds led for most of the game, by as many as seven points (30-23), but the hosts leveled things up and seemed to desire victory more than the Greeks.

Giorgos Printezis (top scorer for Olympiakos with 15 points) missed both free throws in the last minute and Oliver Lafayette failed in his three-point shot, allowing the Basques to hold on to a precious win in the end.

Olympiakos now needs to win all three remaining matches to grab one of the top two spots in its group and enjoy home advantage in the playoffs.