Lojeski, Panathinaikos hold off Maccabi
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens got its new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season off to a winning start by holding off visiting Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 89-84 on Thursday night in the Greek capital. The leads were traded back and forth in the first three quarters before the hosts used a strong finish to the third and start of the fourth quarter to create some breathing room and pave the way to victory. Matt Lojeski was the top scorer for Panathinaikos with 20 points, Keith Langford added 13 and Nick Calathes dished 14 assists. Scottie Wilbekin scored 24 for Maccabi and Michael Roll had 15.
Panathinaikos converted its first four possessions and Langford’s triple opened up an early 13-2 lead. But Wilbekin fueled a 2-12 run that got Maccabi right back into the thick of things. In an up-tempo contest, the teams traded baskets with Calathes running the show and Lojeski and Langford scoring buckets, while Wilbekin shined for Maccabi. The visitors took their first lead, 28-30, on a layup by Alex Tyus early in the second quarter. A third three in as many attempts from Wilbekin and a basket from Tarik Black helped Maccabi to 39-43, but Calathes hit a triple in waning seconds of the first half to give Panathinaikos a 46-45 at halftime edge. The teams continued trading blows in the third quarter. After Black put the visitors up 48-52, Panathinaikos answered with a 7-0 run only for Maccabi to counter with another run of its own and take a 61-65 lead. However, Calathes fueled the hosts to score the last 6 points of the third quarter before a tough three-pointer from DeShaun Thomas in the fourth capped an 11-1 run. A three-point play from Lojeski made it 82-71. Maccabi tried to rally with Wilbekin, Roll and Angelo Caloiaro cutting into the deficit, however, the Greens preserved their advantage for an opening night victory.
After the lead kept changing hands in the middle two quarters, Panathinaikos took it for good with a 6-0 run to end the third quarter, before Matt Lojeski scored 5 points and DeShaun Thomas nailed a tough, off balanced triple during a 12-4 start to the fourth quarter. The score went from 64-67 to 82-71 and the Greens knew how to keep their lead safe until the final buzzer.
Movers and shakers
Apart from Lojeski and Calathes, Panathinaikos had plenty of important contributors in the victory. Keith Langford scored 9 of his 13 points in the first quarter and Thanasis Antetokounmpo scored 10 points in less than 11 minutes on the floor. In addition, DeShaun Thomas, Stephane Lasme, Nikos Pappas and James Gist all made pivotal plays down the stretch. Maccabi had Scottie Wilbekin torching the hosts with 24 points and 8 assists and Michael Roll scored 15.
Maccabi got solid performances from Tarik Black and Angelo Caloiaro in their respective EuroLeague debuts. Black was influential in the paint with 14 points and 6 rebounds, intimidating and dunking several times with authority. Caloiaro quietly got his tally to 11 points and 7 rebounds and played a big role in Maccabi’s attempt to rally late in the game.
Maccabi might have won the overall rebounding battle 28-32, but Panathinaikos had 12 offensive board compared to Maccabi’s 6. That made a big difference in a 5-point win.
In Round 2 on Tuesday, Maccabi will hosts CSKA Moscow, which started its EuroLeague campaign in dominant fashion, while Panathinaikos travels to face FC Bayern Munich.
Thursday, October 11, 2018