Aris ends Panathinaikos’s perfect record in the A1

Defending champion Panathinaikos yesterday suffered its first defeat of the season in the A1 basketball league last night, away, against third-placed Thessaloniki club Aris. For Aris, the victory, with an 82-75 score, ended a six-week losing streak in all competitions, including a midweek loss at Lietuvos Rytas that severely dented the Greek club’s hopes for a place in the Euroleague’s quarterfinals. Last night’s defeat for Panathinaikos was the Athens team’s first after 17 rounds in the A1 league. Despite the loss, Panathinaikos, which has struggled for form in recent weeks, remained in top place. Aris lies third with a 12-5 record. Playing later last night, second-placed Olympiakos overcame host Maroussi for a 75-66 win. Yesterday’s defeat for the European powerhouse followed a desperate battle last Wednesday to overcome visiting Partizan Belgrade in a Euroleague Round of 16 group game. The defending European champion needed that win after opening its Round of 16 group campaign with a loss at Efes Pilsen a week earlier. Aris began brilliantly in yesterday’s clash and sustained its dominance for the first half’s greater part to establish a commanding 52-36 lead at the midway mark. Panathinaikos rallied in the third period to trail by just two points, 65-63, at the end of the quarter. But Aris held on in the closing quarter and managed to extend its lead in the closing stages for its impressive seven-point victory. Jeremiah Massey led the scoring for Aris with 21 points, followed by Bracey Wright with 20 and Giorgos Kalaitzis with 18. In other A1 league games, Kolossos Rhodes defeated fellow strugglers Rethymnon 85-80. Aegaleo beat Panellinios 87-80 to go fourth after Panionios lost 72-62 at AEK. Also, Olympia Larissa defeated PAOK, 80-69, and Olympiada Patras beat AEL, 81-75.