The Greens appear to be coming together as they have won four straight games.
More comfortable in system, Panathinaikos blew past EuroLeague’s top defense
Panathinaikos AKTOR Athens sent a clear message to the rest of the EuroLeague as it rolled past the top defense in the competition for a convincing 90-73 home victory over Valencia Basket.
Valencia came into the game having allowed the fewest points in the league at 73.1 points per game, but Coach Ergin Ataman’s Panathinaikos was not impressed and flashed a balanced and exciting offense to register its fourth straight win.
“I think it was maybe our best game so far,” Ataman said after the win, which pushed Panathinaikos’s record to 6-4. “Once again, we played great basketball. We won the game, but we played great basketball. We had a lot of hustle and we had great synergy with the OAKA. Our fans gave us a lot of motivation. Great defense. Everybody helped each other. On offense we moved the ball inside and outside. Fantastic. A team cannot play better than this in the EuroLeague. I hope it keeps continuing.”
Panathinaikos shared the scoring load with five players in double figures, topped by Mathias Lessort with 16 points and 7 rebounds and Kostas Sloukas added 12 points and 9 assists.
Lessort talked about how the team is really feeling more comfortable in Ataman’s system.
“We are thinking less because things are becoming more automatic. Coach allows us to play more aggressive and be more confident on offense and defense. When you have to think about what you have to do, you lose aggressiveness. But when you know your role and what you need to do on the court you can do it at 100 percent speed and aggressiveness. That has helped us a lot too,” said Lessort.
Sloukas agreed that the team is coming along, but the playmaker said that is a result of a lot of work at practice.
“I feel very proud because every day, 14 players give everything they have at practice and fight for this atmosphere. We deserve that we are getting better and better game by game because we have worked very hard,” added the veteran playmaker.
Ataman is satisfied with how the team has evolved, especially in the last two games - the win over Valencia and beating Virtus Segafredo Bologna 90-76 last week.
“The players also understood how to play with each other. Not only the system but playing with each other. That is very important. To share the space and create good spacing and pass the ball inside and outside. Now they have more confidence and we played great basketball,” the coach said.
Still Ataman knows that things will get a lot tougher starting next week. Panathinaikos has won its last three games at home and beat ALBA Berlin on the road in Round 7.
The Greens face a tough stretch of games coming up - at Partizan Mozart Bet Belgrade and Anadolu Efes Istanbul the next two games and following a home game against currently undefeated Real Madrid come consecutive road contests at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, AS Monaco and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan.
“It will be important to continue to play this kind of basketball also on the road. We need to play with the same aggressiveness on the road,” Ataman urged.
Panathinaikos has sent a clear message the last four games. But an even more meaningful message is yet to come as Panathinaikos tries to continue the roll on the road.