Panathinaikos seeks 2-0 lead over Maccabi

Panathinaikos seeks 2-0 lead over Maccabi

Panathinaikos seeks 2-0 lead over Maccabi

Panathinaikos Athens players celebrate their victory against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv during the two teams’ Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs Game 1 at OAKA.

Panathinaikos looks to take a 2-0 series lead over Maccabi Electra as the two teams meet in the Turkish Airlines Playoffs tonight. Pana hammered Maccabi 93-73 in Game 1 of their best-of-five series at OAKA on March 20 and the two teams will meet again for Game 2. The rematch of last season’s title game turned ugly for the Israeli early as the outcome was decided during a five-minute stretch in which Nick Calathes scored 10 as Panathinaikos broke open an 18-18 tie with 22 unanswered points.

The lead would reach the 30s in the third quarter and Maccabi never threatened again.

Euroleague MVP Dimitris Diamantidis was the star of the show with 15 points and eight assists. Calathes finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Maccabi’s lone bright spots were Keith Langford with 21 points and Devin Smith with 17.

“It was not an easy game; we made it easy the way we played,” Panathinaikos Center Ian Vougioukas was quoted on the Euroleague website. “We played great at both ends, but I am sure that Game 2 will be much different. However we are focused on our target and we will try to take a 2-0 lead and go there with a clear advantage.”

In another playoff game tonight, Regal Barcelona takes on Unics Kazan. The Catalan giants won the opening game of the series 78-66, thanks to a season-high 22 points from Pete Mickeal, who also grabbed seven rebounds. Erazem Lorbek added 15 points, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 13, Boni Ndong 12 and Marcelinho Huertas dished 10 assists for the winners. Nathan Jawai led Barcelona with 15 points, Henry Domercant added 12 and Valdimir Veremeenko tallied 11 points and nine rebounds in defeat.

“Game 1 is very important, but so is Game 2 - we lost Game 2 against Panathinaikos last season,” Mickeal said. “I expect it to be a tougher game. Unics is a good team with four very good American players.”

The winners of the playoffs will advance to the Final Four in Istanbul in May.