Panathinaikos and Olympiakos had to dig deep to score precious home wins at the start of another very demanding week in the Euroleague, with the Greens downing Fenerbahce behind closed doors and the Reds needing overtime to defeat Khimki.
The Greek champion fought off a late comeback by Fenerbahce to win 81-78 on Tuesday at an empty Olympic Sports Hall due to a stadium ban the Euroleague imposed on the Greens just 30 hours before tipoff.
The two teams shared the lead during the first half that ended 46-42 in the Turkish team’s favor. Yet after the 48-44 lead of Fener early in the second half Panathinaikos produced a remarkable third period to advance by eight after 30 minutes (65-57) and then by 13 (70-57).
When captain Nick Calathes got fouled out Panathinaikos suffered in offense, Fener cut the distance to just one point (77-76) and thought it should have the chance to take the game to overtime when Nando De Colo appeared to have been fouled upon trying a buzzer-beating triple. There was no foul given, Panathinaikos won by three, and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague – to give its full name – was left the other day taking the unusual step of saying this should have been a foul call…
In the post-match press conference coach Rick Pitino had to take his hat off to Jimmer Fredette, not only for the 22 points he scored but also for his defensive performance that was vital for the Greens’ win on the night. Calathes made 15 points and DeShaun Thomas another 13.
Panathinaikos now lies sixth with a 9-5 record.
Olympiakos came back from the dead, i.e. from nine points down with almost a minute left on the clock, to send the game with Khimki to overtime and then win comfortably 109-98 on Wednesday.
Despite leading for almost 33 minutes at the half-empty Peace and Friendship Stadium, the Reds found themselves concede 29 points in the first nine minutes of the final quarter. With the score at 96-87 for the Moscow team all seemed lost for the hosts.
However the great night of its Greek stars gave Olympiakos a chance to turn things around with three triples in the last minute of the game to force overtime and then make the most of the Russians’ disappointment with wasting their lead, to take the score to 109 points.
Giorgos Printezis led the scoring for the Piraeus club with 26 points, while Vassilis Spanoulis and Costas Papanikolaou made 18 apiece.
This was the sixth win for Olympiakos in 14 games; crucially, this one was against a team that will likely be among its rivals for a play-off spot.