Panathinaikos takes clear advantage in basketball league

Panathinaikos seems to have emerged from the monthlong crisis that saw it miss out on basketball’s Greek Cup and the Euroleague, as it defeated archrival Olympiakos 98-90 at home on Sunday night. This latest result means that not only has Panathinaikos avenged its four-point loss in the Cup final eight days earlier, but it has also taken a two-point lead at the top of the table with eight games left to go before the playoffs. Playing in front of a capacity crowd of home fans at the Olympic Sports Hall in Maroussi, the Greens had an impressive three-pointer rate that, at one point, came to 9 out of 11, to end up with 15 out of 32 attempts. With Drew Nicholas (27 points), Dimitris Diamantidis (26 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists) and Vassilis Spanoulis (22 points) having a fantastic night, Panathinaikos never lost the lead and momentarily had an advantage of 19 points (74-55). Olympiakos was missing two of its best players, Yiannis Bourousis and Linas Kleiza, for health reasons, with Thodoris Papaloukas and Milos Teodosic failing to reach the level of performance that had seen them lead the Reds to the Cup final triumph eight days earlier against the same opponent. Josh Childress and Sofoklis Schortsanitis (26 and 18 points respectively) tried to keep Olympiakos in the game. «If you want to win the league, you have to win everywhere. We will need to win here to take the championship,» admitted Childress after the game. A major upset took place in the other game held on Sunday, as bottom-placed Ilisiakos defeated Euroleague challengers Maroussi 74-69. There were more unexpected results in Saturday’s matches, as struggling Trikala beat Aris 87-85 in overtime, Kavala took a great step toward its survival with its 84-77 win at PAOK, and AEK suffered a shock 64-59 home loss to Kolossos Rhodes. In other games: Panellinios beat host Panionios 87-85 and Peristeri downed visiting Olympia Larissas 90-69.

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