SPORTS

Freak Rudy triple sinks the Greens, as Reds risk crashing out

freak-rudy-triple-sinks-the-greens-as-reds-risk-crashing-out

A freak buzzer-beating triple by Rudy Fernandez had Panathinaikos succumb to Real Madrid in Athens, while a careless Olympiakos is risking missing out of the play-offs after its home loss to Zalgiris Kaunas, as both Greek teams wasted their leads to lose to their visitors, one round of games before the end of the Euroleague regular season.

Panathinaikos let slip a huge lead against Real Madrid to lose 74-73 on Thursday, but is still a favorite to make the play-offs as it only needs to beat Buducnost next Thursday in Athens.

The 18-point lead at the end of the first quarter, with 32 points scored by the Greens in an impressive crescendo, probably came too early in the game for the host, that slowly saw the Spaniards eat into their deficit.

The Greek attack slowed down to 13 or 14 points in each of the three remaining periods, and prolific Real did its best to set up a tense finale.

With a few seconds left on the clock Panathinaikos did everything right in the last defense of the game, except that a desperate hook shot from eight meters out by Fernandez found the target in the most unlikely of fashions. This was the only time Real led in the game after advancing 0-3 in the first minute.

Nick Calathes and Keith Langford made 14 points each for Panathinaikos, that is on 15-14.

Olympiakos fell to Zalgiris with a 72-68 score in Piraeus on Friday and its fate is not in its hands anymore. Even a win in the last home game against Darussafaka next Friday may not suffice for the Reds, who are on a 14-15 record.

The Greek team had an inferior shooting rate to its visitor but even so managed to advance by four at half-time (38-34) thanks to a second-quarter comeback, and by up to 12 in Q3 (51-39).

However it ran out of steam at that point, with the Lithuanians scoring 14 unanswered points to turn the tables and grab the lead that carried them through till the end.

Much as Briante Weber (26 points) and Nikola Milutinov (18 points, 12 rebounds) tried, they were desperately lonely in trying to cover for injured Vassilis Spanoulis and Janis Strelnieks.

In the Basketball Champions League holder AEK went down 71-67 at Bamberg and will have to reverse that deficit on Wednesday, April 3 when it hosts the German team in Athens for the return leg, as it aspires to make a second consecutive Final Four.