Panathinaikos played with fire in Istanbul, but still managed to beat Galatasaray 86-84 on Friday and climb to the third sport of its group two games before the end of the Euroleague top-16.
Against a Turkish side that was depleted, already eliminated and poorly supported on the night (with fewer than 2,000 fans at the stands at the Abdi Ipekci Arena), Panathinaikos wasted leads of more than 10 points on several occasions and very nearly lost a game where it led almost throughout the 40 minutes.
Galatasaray played catch-up in this game and at times it was unable to contain the good long-range shooting of the Greeks, who enjoyed a 45 percent rate in three-pointers.
The Greens led 23-16 after the first quarter and 40-38 at half-time, and when they advanced by 11 late in the last period it appeared that the game was sealed. However the Turks took the game down to the wire and had it not been for their poor free-throw shooting, Panathinaikos would have lost the game in Istanbul to the group’s bottom club.
James Gist and Esteban Batista scored 14 points each for the Greens.
Given the very poor performances of Panathinaikos away from home, it appears that even if the Greens make it into the play-offs by beating Alba Berlin next week, going into the quarterfinals without home advantage will mean a very small chance of progressing against sides like CSKA Moscow or Fenerbahce.
Unless of course it is Olympiakos that comes in the Greek champion’s way…