Panathinaikos still alive in Euroleague playoff race

In their first “do-or-die” game in the EuroLeague, Panathinaikos stood tall against Efes on Friday night and boosted their playoff hopes.

The “Greens” rallied past Anadolu Efes at home (88-75) and managed to maintain a playoff push. Given their recent form and the unfortunate results, another defeat would bring them on the brink of elimination.

Nick Calathes leads Panathinaikos

Thanks to a 15-1 early in the second half, the hosts took a 19-point lead (57-38). But, the visiting Turks reacted and cut the deficit to just two (63-61). Nevertheless, the Greek hosts kept things under control and brought their lead back to double digits to seal the deal (86-70).

Nick Calathes came very close to the triple-double for the winners, with 20 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists. Coach Rick Pitino went as far as to say that Nick Calathes is the best passer he has ever seen!

Sean Kilpatrick scored 13 points and James Gist posted a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) for the Greeks. On the other hand, Rodrigue Beaubois had a game-high 15 points for the losing squad. Also, Krunoslav Simon contributed 14 and Tibor Pleiss 13 points.

Thanks to this victory, Panathinaikos improved to 9-12, whereas Anadolu Efes dropped to 13-8.

This was the third win for the “Greens” in seven matches under Rick Pitino. However, they still are in a vulnerable position, while they also don’t have the tie-breaker against the other playoff contenders.

Furthermore, Panathinaikos have a difficult schedule ahead of them, with four of their next five games being on the road.

Until mid-March, the Greeks will face the likes of Gran Canaria, Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow and Darussafaka. At the same time, they will welcome only Khimki (February 22).

These five matches will determine whether the six-time EuroLeague champions will fight until the end for the final playoff spot.

So far, though, the team has not significantly improved since the Xavi Pascual era. Under coach Pitino, the squad’s playing style is still predictable, with the squad relying a lot on Nick Calathes.

With Nikos Pappas and Keith Langford out with injuries, the remaining players have to step up. If Panathinakos plays consistently on both ends, then they will have a chance to turn things around.

Otherwise, their season will end in disappointment.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login