Panathinaikos’ hoopsters, a perennial power in the European basketball league championship runs, fell 79-77 to the Spanish team Laboral Kutxa, coming up just short after a hard run at the end of the game following a lackluster beginning for the Greens.
Panathinaikos’ big-scoring front line of James Gist, Stephane Lasme, Loukas Mavrokefalidis and Mike Batiste combined for only 15 points, although the team’s defense kept the game from turning into a runaway.
Panathinaikos seemed out of it from the get-go, training 34-19 after the first period but dug in its heels and kept the Spanish team to only 45 points for the next three quarters while it tried to mount a comeback.
The Greek team had no answer in the first half for sharpshooter Fernando San Emeterio who drilled all five three-points he took before Panathiaikos decided to start guarding someone.
Laboral stretched its lead to 42-21 after 13 minutes, firing away and clicking on nine of 10 long bomb three-pointers to fluster the Greeks and build a cushion that just stood up.
Sterling play by Dimitris Diamantidis and Roko Ukic, and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Jonas Maciulis brought Panathinaikos back to only an 11-point deficit at the half, 55-44.
The Greens actually overtook their opponents in the second half and gained a 58-57 lead eight minutes into the third quarter with a stunning 22-2 run that had the Spanish team gasping and its three-point offense shut down.
The Basques came back again though and took a nine-point lead and held onto it until the end
Yet the Basques were not done yet. They took a nine point lead (76-67) and safeguarded it till the end for a precious home win but only when Diamantidis’ attempt to tie it at the end clanged off the rim. Still, he finished with 19 points in a spirited performance that included seven assists while Maciulis also scored 19 and had eight rebounds. Panathinaikos is now fourth in its six-team group with three wins from seven matches.