PAO and Panionios win

Panathinaikos and Panionios scored two hard-fought home wins for basketball’s Euroleague in Athens last night. The Greens downed Italy’s Montepaschi Siena 81-76, while Panionios defeated Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade 72-70. For Panathinaikos, beating the group leaders had been imperative for restoring calm in the side and taking the team to the top of its group. With three wins in as many games, Siena was unbeaten, but came up against a strong start by Panathinaikos to trail 22-14 after the first period. The Italians narrowed the gap to only two points just before halftime, which ended 45-42. The second half was a thriller, with teams overtaking each other and Siena having some very good three-point rates. Yet after Siena went level at 71-71, Panathinaikos made its experience tell and won the game, thanks to its good defense. Panionios scored its second win in four games, and its second consecutive one, downing visiting Partizan Belgrade 84-79 at Elliniko. After its amazing triumph in Istanbul over Efes Pilsen last week, Panionios was the better team at the start of the game, taking a 13-point lead early in the second period (26-13). However, the Serbs fought back to edge ahead one minute from halftime (32-35). Eight unanswered points by the hosts gave them a 40-35 lead after the second period. In the second half, Panionios had the upper hand throughout, albeit not as big as in the first half. It ended the third period leading 56-47 and when the Serbs came to within striking distance (68-66), Panionios managed to regroup and win the match. Later last night, Olympiakos hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv in Piraeus and was ahead by five points (34-29) at halftime.