Greens take high road past Bayern and into Top 16
Panathinaikos Athens charged into the Top 16 and avenged its first loss of the season on Friday with a no-doubt-about it 87-72 victory over visiting FC Bayern Munich. The Greens raised their Group C record to 5-2, pulling with them to the next round Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, with the same record, while FC Barcelona had previously qualified. Bayern dropped to 1-6 and faces a do-or-die game next week at EA7 Emporio Armani Milan to keep its Top 16 hopes alive. Panathinaikos played without starting center Esteban Batista but hardly missed his points as backup Loukas Mavrokefalidis stepped up with 16, surpassed only by A.J. Slaughter's 17. Antonis Fotsis added 14, Vlantimir Giankovits 13 and Nikos Pappas 10 for the winners. The Greens held Bayern scoreless for 5 minutes of the first quarter to stake early leads. When Bo McCalebb rallied the visitors for a 31-31 second-quarter tie, Slaughter and Fotsis shared 3 three-pointers in a 13-2 run to close the half. Panathinaikos, which had just 5 turnovers, a club record in the Euroleague, was never threatened again. Bayern got 15 points from McCalebb and 14 from Robin Benzing, but suffered from 4-for-23 three-point shooting.
First quarter: Greens' defense secures lead
Slaughter buried a three-pointer to open the scoring for the hosts. John Bryant took that responsibility for Bayern with a layup that McCalebb soon copied for a 3-4 lead. Giankovits answered with the first Panathinaikos triple, before Dusko Savanovic hit free throws and a lane jumper for a 6-8 Bayern advantage. Slaughter dropped a runner to tie again before Mavrokefalidis put Panathinaikos in front with a pair of jumpers. Dimitris Diamantidis found a diagonal avenue to the basket for a reverse and a 14-8 lead that lasted a couple minutes until Vasilije Micic finally answered for Bayern. Giankovits restored the Greens' six-point lead at the foul line, then James Gist expanded on it with his first basket before Milic added his second for an 18-12 scoreboard after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: McCalebb rallies Bayern, Slaughter answers
Heiko Schaffartzik's three-point play to open the second quarter got Bayern right back in it, 18-15, but soon Panathinaikos added new scorers. Julian Wright scored in close and Pappas drilled a triple to make it 23-18. Wright detonated a huge dunk while Vladimir Stimac joined the Bayern effort with 3 points. Eleftherios Bochoridis did the same for Panathinaikos with a layup to match one by Pappas that made it 29-23. Robin Benzing hit free throws and McCalebb followed with a jump shot to get Bayern as close as it had been in a while, 29-27. Pappas and Savanovic traded layups before McCalebb pulled up for another jumper and a 31-31 tie. Mavrokefalidis broke the tie in favor of Panathinaikos and then Slaughter was left open to add a triple to it. After a timeout, Bayern watched Fotsis drill a deep triple, too, to match the game's high lead, 39-31. McCalebb got 2 points back at the foul line, but Diamantidis fed Mavrokefalidis to match it. After another timeout, Panathinakos went to Slaughter, who buried the first half's last shot from downtown for the first double-digit lead, 44-33.
Third quarter: Mavrokefalidis takes over
A series of 5 out of 6 free throws by Fotsis and Giankovits pushed the Panathinaikos advantage to 49-33 to start the second half. Bayern got worse news when Micic left the floor in pain with an elbow injury, but finally got its first basket from Stimac. But that was met with those of Mavrokefalidis and Giankovits, whose fastbreak layup forced a Bayern timeout at 53-35. A quick dish from Slaughter to Mavrokefalidis upped the difference to 20 points. Benzing broke Bayern's slide with a layup that Diamantidis and Mavrokefalidis erased with 2 free throws each. Benzing answered with a three-pointer, just Bayern's second in 13 tries, before Savanovic broke loose on a fastbreak to make it 59-42. Slaughter and Schaffartzik traded baskets next, then a scoring pause ended with Pappas drilling a triple at 64-45. Bryant and Savanovic shared 4 perfect free throws before Schaffartzik's no-look pass led Bryant to a bucket to trim the difference to 65-51 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Fotsis slams the door
A sweet give-and-go from Wright to Fotsis opened the fourth-quarter scoring. When Bryant answered with a three-point play, Fotsis simply matched it from long-range. Benzing and McCalebb kept trimming the difference, however, with the latter's steal and fastbreak layup making it 70-58. McCalebb chose that moment for Bayern's third three-pointer, which reduced the difference to single digits, but only until Mavrokefalidis hit 2 free throws for a 72-61 scoreboard with 5 minutes left. Benzing scored in close, but Slaughter answered with 4 consecutive free throws as McCalebb fouled out. Paul Zipser scored at 77-65, but that was bettered by Diamantidis from long range. Another fortuitous triple from Fotsis, his third, put the game out of reach at 83-65 as Panathinaikos fans celebrated the march to another Top 16 and Bayern was left to figure out how to save the same opportunity.
Friday, November 28, 2014