By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a dog fight until the end, Panathinaikos made a valiant effort, but Real Madrid ultimately prevailed after double overtime (97-93) after two made free throws by Trey Thompkins that sealed the deal. Nemanja Nedovic cut the lead to two (95-93) but with just three seconds left it was not enough.
On his birthday Alberto Abalde with 19 points – 15 of them during the two overtimes – and six assists, plus Walter Tavares with 20 points and 14 rebounds stole the show from Madrid, while Nedovic tried his best with 27 points for Panathinaikos.
“I think it’s a team win, you need all your teammates in order to get that kind of wins”, said Abalde.
Real Madrid led even by 14 points (47-33) in the third quarter, however, Panathinaikos managed to tie the score at 66 with three minutes left after a shot by Ioannis Papapetrou and then got a 68-66 lead thanks to Nedovic.
A zone defense was the key for the Greens as Madrid made just four threes in 31 attempts during regulation. Panathinaikos also had 4/21 threes and by tooth and claw, they stayed on the game.
“We didn’t play solid when we had the advantage, we didn’t execute and lost too many open shots”, said coach Pablo Laso after the final buzzer. “We knew that Panathinaikos will fight until the end and we also got lucky”.
Madrid simply couldn’t score, missing five threes in the last four minutes. Trey Thompkins missed one more – open – three in the closing seconds, Gabriel Deck couldn’t tip the ball in, but Sergio Llull got the offensive rebound and tied the game at 68 with 14 seconds left for the hosts.
Νedovic got the ball for the last shot, but he bumped to Jeffery Taylor as the final buzzer sounded. After the thrilling first overtime in which Abalde and Lefteris Bochoridis stole the show with big plays, the score was still tied at 79 and the stage was set for the thrilling finale. Once again, Abalde gave Madrid a 93-88 lead, and this time it was enough.