ATHENS – Behind a 69-63 win over lightly-regarded Red Star Belgrade, Panathinaikos advanced to the top 16 of the Euroleague but worries persist that the Greek powerhouse is underperforming and faces tougher challenges.
The Greeks were led by Ramel Curry and James Gist to best the Serbian team, but had to overcome a big deficit in rebounding and a poor night by star player and national team veteran Dimitris Diamantidis.
Curry, from Brooklyn and Fresno City College, picked up the slack with his best game of the year, firing in 16 points to bring his team back from a 31-28 halftime deficit.
The second half was also tight with the Serbs leading 61-59 before Panathinaikos scored eight unanswered points to break away 67-61.
Gist was once again his team’s top player with 15 points, three blocks and five rebounds to get his club into the second group stage of the competition with two games left to play.
Panathinaikos had to play without Nikos Pappas, who will be sidelined for six weeks while Lithuanian Jonas Maciulis, one of his most reliable players, suffered an injury in the third quarter and will be out an undetermined time.