Basketball is a different game across the Atlantic

Panathinaikos, the reigning European and Greek basketball champion, ended its short two-match pre-season tour of the USA with a 113-91 defeat against the current NBA title holder San Antonio Spurs, a slight improvement from the Athens club’s 107-70 loss against the Houston Rockets a couple of nights earlier. The Greek team’s two-game expedition against NBA competition once again highlighted the differences between basketball regulations in the USA and Europe. Caught off guard by the NBA regulations, which applied to the two games played by Panathinakios, the Greek club’s coach Zelimir Obradovic’s temper erupted on numerous occasions throughout his team’s opening encounter in Houston. With every illegal-defense whistle, Obradovic – widely regarded as the most successful coach in European basketball with six Euroleague titles to his credit, three of them with Panathinaikos – seemed like he was on the verge of a fit as the reminders of the rules kept coming in. The game’s officials had to repeatedly remind Obradovic that a zone-defense system was not permitted by NBA regulations. The seething Obradovic was handed two technical fouls and an ejection late in the game. Security was called into the arena to offer a stronger suggestion that he had to go. Panathinaikos’s difficulty in adapting to the NBA’s regulations is a problem also confronted by the US team at the World Championships, where international regulations, set by FIBA, the governing body, apply. In its second game, Panathinaikos appeared a more settled side despite its 22-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Greek team enjoyed periods of impressive play at various stages of the game. Playing a little over 20 minutes, Tim Duncan scored 20 points to lead the hosts, who were up by as much as 29 points at one stage in the exhibition game. Panathiniakos’s Sarunas Jasikevicius, who signed for the Greek team in a record deal – for local standards – last summer, co-led the Greek team with Mike Batiste. They scored 18 points apiece. Sani Becirovic scored 13 points and Milos Vujanic followed with 12.

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