The Greek A1 playoff series is taking on a familiar pattern as Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus opened their semi-final series’ with cruising home wins. It seems inevitable even with plenty to play for in the semis that the two giants of Greek A1 hoops will be challenging the final later this month. Both clubs finished the Regular Season with 25-1 records, losing just two games between them all season.
Neither Panathinaikos of Olympiacos is having a vintage season, both were dumped out of the Euroleague early, with the Piraeus club failing to even make the Playoffs. However, on home turf both clubs are more than good enough to reach the final of the A1, and Aris Thessaloniki and AEK Athens posed little threat in game 1.
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Aris Thessaloniki, 85-79
Aris kept pace with the hosts early on and through the first quarter the teams traded buckets to lock the scoreboard at 19-19 at the first buzzer. The Greens improved in the second quarter and drained 27 points, and while Aris continued to look good, the visitors managed just 20 points and trailed 46-39 at halftime. In the second half Panathinaikos carried its momentum into the third act and a 21-18 run made it 67-57 through thirty minutes. With a 10 point cushion the hosts eased off and contained a small Aris rally to win the game.
Nick Calathes’ rounded game of 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists paced Panathinaikos, while Elliot Williams added 18 points, and Nikos Pappas 12 points. Miroslav Raduljica added 10 points, 8 boards and 5 assists in the win.
Jerel McNeal led the scoring with 22 points for Thessaloniki, and doubled up with 10 rebounds.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. AEK Athens, 93-58
Olympiacos blitzed AEK Athens in Game 1 of the Greek A1 Semis, taking apart their opponents in a show of strength early in the series. The hosts started well, plundering 21 points in the first quarter for a solid 21-14 lead through ten minutes on the hardwood. Olympiacos went into high gear from there, snatching the second frame 31-16, an impressive display that gave the team a 52-30 halftime lead. AEK doubled down in the third and drew 18-18 to keep it respectable, but in the fourth act the hosts went again with a game winning 23-10 charge.
Vassilis Spanoulis topped the win with 15 points and 5 assists, while Othello Hunter added 12 points and D.J. Strawberry scored 10 points.
Dimitrios Katsivelis scored 15 in the losing effort, followed Loukas Mavrokefalidis with 10 points.