SPORTS

Two out of three for local hoopsters in the Euroleague

Both Panathinaikos and Olympiakos confirmed their qualification to the top 16 of the Euroleague but Panionios lost last night at home and may not join them. Panionios knew that Efes Pilsen was going to be a tough nut to crack even though the Nea Smyrni club had beat the Turks in Istanbul. The visitors stormed into the game at Hellenikon, leading 25-11 after the first period, but Panionios started reducing the gap with the help of its supporters in their best turnout to date. The Greeks came within striking distance of Efes (49-52) toward the end of the third period but the Turkish side regrouped and managed to regain a double-digit lead in the last quarter to win the game 64-78. The result gives the Turks the edge over Panionios in the group, as the Nea Smyrni side had won by nine points in Istanbul but Panionios still has a decent hope of progressing if it beats Milano at home next month. Panathinaikos dismissed France’s Nancy 83-69 at the Olympic Sports Hall in Athens on Wednesday for its sixth win in eight games. Its next match in Italy against Montepaschi Siena will decide whether the Greens grab the second or the third spot in the group. The top four qualify from each group. Olympiakos gave fans its best performance so far this season, thrashing visiting Cibona Zagreb 93-64 in Piraeus. The solid win means Olympiakos has also turned the neck-and-neck record with the Croats in its favor should the two teams finish level on points. The Reds remain top of their group with six wins and two more games to play.