Panathinaikos comeback falls short as Real Madrid win series
EUROLEAGUE PLAY OFFS - GAME 4
|Real Madrid||88 - 82||Panathinaikos|
|(19 - 14)
(51 - 35)
(78 - 60)
(88 - 82)
A dominant fourth quarter performance proved to be too little, too late as Panathinaikos succumbed to a third straight defeat and subsequent elimination from this season’s EuroLeague…
Panathinaikos’ push for a return to the EuroLeague Final Four came to a devastating end in Madrid on Friday night as the Trifylli fell to an 89-82 defeat against Real Madrid on the night and a 3-1 series defeat against the Spanish giants.
A slow start for Panathinaikos proved costly as the Greek Champions slumped to a 16-point deficit by halftime; a gap that proved insurmountable despite best efforts from Panathinaikos in the fourth quarter.
Chris Singleton led Panathinaikos scorers with 21 points as the Trifylli did the majority of their scoring in the second half after being held to just 35 points in the opening half. Both Nick Calathes and Mike James notched 18 points for Panathinaikos, but the former was limited in his playmaking abilities with just four assists registered on the night.
For Real Madrid, teenage sensation Luka Doncic led the way with 17 points with his most impressive basket coming late in the fourth quarter as a dagger three-pointer over Calathes. Felipe Reyes and Gustavo Ayon each added 12 points for Madrid, while Sergio Llull enjoyed another strong game in just his second outing since his return with 11 points in 18 minutes.
Real Madrid showed their desire to avoid a fifth game in the series soon after tip-off as the Spaniards raced out to a 19-14 run in the opening quarter. Despite Madrid’s early dominance, the main talking point was Panathinaikos’ struggles in the offensive end – a trend that would continue into the second quarter.
With Panathinaikos struggling to find the hoop, Real Madrid continued to pad their lead in the second frame as the Spanish giants surged to a 32-21 in the second quarter to blow the game wide open at 51-35 by halftime.
Panathinaikos gave a much better account of themselves in the third quarter, but still the Athenians were unable to cut into the Madrid lead – which actually increased before the start of the fourth quarter (78-60).
With their season on the line, Panathinaikos made a desperate push to save their season as Xavi Pascual’s men begin to dictate tempo on the offensive end. A double-digit Madrid lead soon shrank to as low as five points as Panathinaikos pushed a comeback.
The Real Madrid advantage proved to be too big a deficit to overcome as the Trifylli couldn’t cut any closer than five points, despite a 22-11 run in the final frame.
The defeat sees Panathinaikos’ campaign come to an end after three successive defeats against Real Madrid – a shocking turn of events after such an explosive start to the series in game one.
With Panathinaikos’ season in the EuroLeague now over, the future of the club in the tournament remains in question as Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos has threatened to remove the club from the competition following disagreements with the EuroLeague’s executive panel.
For Real Madrid, the Spanish giants return to the Final Four for the second straight year and for the fifth time in the last six seasons – joining the likes of CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce, and Zalgiris Kaunas as the quartet headed to Belgrade next month.