Laboral holds off Panathinaikos in thriller
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria hit 10 three-pointers in the first half and built a 21-point advantage, but needed to hold off Panathinaikos Athens 79-77 in a dramatic finish for a crucial victory on Friday night. The win improved Laboral to 4-3 and third place in Group D, while Panathinaikos dropped to 3-4 and fourth place. Laboral stormed out of the gate, hitting 9 triples on the first 10 attempts, and opening up a 42-21 lead early in the second quarter. But Panathinaikos made a 0-8 run to end first half and 2-14 to start the third, taking 57-58 lead. However, with more three-point magic, the hosts got back the lead, and with the game going down to the wire they prevailed when Dimitris Diamantidis missed a last second three-pointer. Milko Bjelica had 17 points in victory, and Fernando San Emeterio hit 5 of 7 triples for 15 points. Thomas Heurtel netted 10 in victory. Diamantidis had 19 points and 7 assists for the Greens, and Jonas Maciulis also scored 19 while pulling down 8 rebounds. Roko Ukic scored 14 in defeat.
First quarter: Laboral hits 7 triples for an early 15-point lead
The hosts opened the game with a corner triple from Thomas Heurtel, before David Jelinek sank back-to-back shots from downtown for a 9-0 lead. The Greens scored their first 4 points from the foul line, but Tibor Pleiss scored twice inside, including a dunk to make it 13-4. Diamantidis hit a triple, but Pleiss answered with a basket-plus-foul and San Emeterio a corner triple. Pleiss continued to dominate in the paint on both ends of the floor, making it 21-7. Maciulis answered with back-to-back three-pointers against zone defense, but Bjelica scored twice inside, extending the lead to 25-13. In the entertaining final minute of the quarter, Nikos Pappas scored 4 of 4 from the foul line, but San Emeterio hit back-to-back-to-back triples, the last two from the left corner, lifting Laboral to 34-19 after the first quarter.
Second quarter: Greens rally before halftime
Bjelica extended the margin to 17 points at the start of the second, before Ukic made a short jumper for the visitors. San Emeterio sank his fifth triple in as many attempts, again from the left corner, and Walter Hodge hit one from downtown for a controlling 42-21 advantage. After a timeout by visiting head coach Argiris Pedoulakis, Diamantidis hit back-to-back threes, but Bjelica had a basket-plus-foul and Lamont Hamilton added a big two-handed slam. Ukic and Thomas Kelati traded triples, before a basket from Loukas Mavrokefalidis and a fastbreak layup from Ukic cut it to 50-34. A basket-plus-foul from Bjelica and a long jumper from Thomas Kelati cut the visitors' run, however Panathinaikos ended the half with a 0-8 run. Maciulis and Ukic scored driving layups, before Maciulis connected from long range, getting Panathinaikos within 55-44 at halftime.
Third quarter: Panathinaikos come all the way back
Both teams started much better on defense in the third quarter, with Panathinaikos cutting its deficit o 55-47 with free throws, before Heurtel drove coast-to-coast for a layup. But the Greens went on to score 11 consecutive points. James Gist made a tip-in and Ukic an uncontested fastbreak layup to start the run, before a basket-plus-foul from Maciulis and a shot from way downtown tied it 57-57. Diamantidis split free throws to put Panathinaikos in front for the first time in the game. However, Laboral found some of its offense with triples from Kelati and Walter Hodge, before Gist made it 65-62 at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: And it comes down to the final shots
Rimantas Kaukenas started the scoring in the fourth with a jumper, but Diamantidis nailed a three-pointer. Bjelica scored inside, and Kaukenas had a fastbreak layup, before Heurtel nailed a long jumper with his toes on a three-point line to make it 73-65. Ukic made a tough floater, and after Heurtel sank a triple, 76-67, Diamantidis answered with his fifth three-pointer and Maciulis followed it up with a layup-plus-foul to bring the Greens within 2. In a tense finish, neither team scored from the field for almost three minutes. A pair of free throws from Bjelica made it 79-74, but on the ensuing possession Fotsis sank a three-pointer and the Greens made a defensive stand to get the last possession with 11 seconds on the clock. The ball went to Diamantidis, but his potential
Friday, November 29, 2013