Anadolu Efes goes down to defeat amid fourth-quarter surge by Panathinaikos

Anadolu Efes goes down to defeat amid fourth-quarter surge by Panathinaikos

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Anadolu Efes goes down to defeat amid fourth-quarter surge by Panathinaikos

Panathinaikos' Stephane Lasme (C) jumps to score during the Greek side's Euroleague Top 16 basketball clash against Anadolu Efes in Athens on March 1. AFP photo

Anadolu Efes saw their seven-game winning streak snapped in Euroleague action tonight, as the Istanbul club wilted under a fourth-quarter onslaught from hosts Panathinaikos, falling 75-62.

The match remained a cagey, see-saw affair for much of the 40 minutes, but the Turkish club was unable to halt the last-quarter attacks from the Greek side, which broke open a 56-56 tie with a 16-0 run to ultimately win comfortably.

Panathinaikos, the 2011 Euroleague champion, put themselves back in contention for a playoff spot following a key, 78-73 win away to Lithuania’s Zalgiris Kaunas last week, while Efes entered the match on the back of a 63-60 victory over last year’s runner-up, Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow. Efes had started their seven-match winning streak against Panathinaikos, but it was the Greek side that ultimately ended their winning series.

Panathinaikos scored by committee, with Dimitris Diamantidis and Roko Ukic leading the team with the comparatively low total of just 13 points each. By contrast, Efes’ Serbian power forward Dusko Savanovic single-handedly kept his side close for much of the match, exuding supreme cool while racking up 21 points.

The Serbian paced his team early, putting up 10 points in the first quarter, but Panathinaikos center Sofoklis Schortsanitis, known as “Baby Shaq” as well as “Sofo,” was a constant threat for the home side, frequently overpowering Efes’ defense to score points early.

Efes started well, but was quickly pegged back by their Greek hosts, only for the Turkish club to recover enough to take a 21-19 lead into the first quarter break.

The Athens club came out gunning in the second quarter, going on a 15-5 run and prompting Efes coach Oktay Mahmuti to take a time-out to rally his troops.

The talk seemed to settle Efes, which ceased shipping baskets and started to cut into Panathinaikos’ lead, thanks in part to Savanovic. Ultimately, the teams entered the intermission tied 38-38.

The third quarter was largely devoid of stoppages as both teams turned over the ball frequently after failing at offense. Slowly, however, Panathinaikos wore down Efes, building up a 56-51 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The see-saw encounter continued in the fourth quarter, as Efes fought back to level the score at 56-56, only for Panathinaikos to again forge ahead for good.

Efes, now 7-2, remains in second spot in Group E behind Real Madrid. The team will continue their travels next week, playing away to 1-7 ALBA Berlin on March 6. Panathinaikos, now level with CSKA Moscow at 6-3, will travel to Spain to play Unicaja Malaga in their next fixture on March 8. The top four teams from each group advance to the playoffs.