Season’s perfect record broken

Spanish basketball club Unicaja Malaga unleashed a late 8-0 run to pull away from Panathinaikos for a 67-61 win late Wednesday night that ended the Greek club’s perfect Euroleague record after 12 rounds of first-stage group competition. Panathinaikos, the Euroleague’s only undefeated team until Wednesday night’s encounter in Spain, went into the game already assured of Group B’s top spot. The Athens team has broken well clear in the group with two games remaining. For the Spanish host, the win improved Unicaja’s record to 5-7, and put the club back in the hunt for one of the next round’s 16 berths. Unicaja moved up to equal fifth place, which it shares with Partizan Belgrade, but the Serbian club is placed a slot higher because of its better record. Lottomatica Roma, a game behind the two, was playing late last night, away, against second-placed DKV Joventut. With star power forward Mike Batiste sidelined by a calf injury, Panathinaikos was unable to handle Unicaja center Daniel Santiago, who amassed 20 points and eight rebounds. Dimitris Diamantidis led Panathinaikos with 12 points. «We beat a great team like Panathinaikos with a great coach [Zelimir Obradovic], a great roster and a great mentality. The win is important, not only because it helps us in the standings, but also because it improves our confidence in games to come,» said Unicaja coach Sergio Scariolo. The top five clubs from the Euroleague’s three groups advance to the next stage along with the sixth-placed team with the best record for a second stage of group play. The 16 teams will be divided into four groups, where they will vie for the top two spots and quarterfinal places. The Final Four tournament will be held in Athens, May 4-6, at the OAKA Olympic Arena. Aris takes big step for next stage with win over Treviso Aris fought back to defeat Benetton Treviso 65-60 late last night for a crucial victory that brings the Thessaloniki club a step away from a place in the Euroleague’s next stage. Aris, Benetton, and Pau-Orthez lie equal third in Group C with 6-6 records and two games remaining. Aris covered an eight-point deficit to eventually overtake the visiting Italian club and establish a commanding lead, 59-52, with a little less than two minutes remaining. In Group C’s other game last night, Turkish team Fenerbahce defeated second-placed Barcelona 82-69 for a 5-7 record that keeps its hopes alive. The Spanish team is second with a 8-4 record.

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