By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Pure playoff intensity! Of the kind that the faint-hearted should not be allowed to watch. And perhaps not in a match between two teams, but in a battle where a passionate, energetic and well coached squad of individuals managed to bring down the sheer will, extreme brilliance and winning mentality that only one of the Euroleague Greats might possess.
In one of the most thrilling and fascinating games in the history of the Euroleague playoffs, Laboral Kutxa defeated Diamantidis….errr, sorry, Panathinaikos 82 – 78 in overtime. The series are now 2-0 in the Basques’ favor, despite an epic performance by their opponents’ captain. It remains to be seen if the Greens will be able to make what no team has ever done before in Euroleague, coming back from a 2-0 in the playoff series, or if Laboral Kutxa will complete what they began.
The hosts entered the extra period with a 7 – 2 partial score, thanks to personal plays by Giannis Bourousis. Panathinaikos made it 80 – 78, one minute before the final buzzer through some hustle plays and had a chance to even tie the game in the next offense. But Miroslav Raduljica’s hook shot from nearly under the rim didn’t find target and, what was worse, Laboral’s players moved the ball well enough to leave only four seconds in the clock when Darius Adams was fouled by his opponents. The top scorer in another game for Laboral Kutxa, was perfect from the line, making his points 24 and sealing the final outcome.
Before the extra period we had a witnessed one more show of legendary material by Dimitris Diamantidis, in the unique.. “3D” quality that only he can deliver. The Greens’ captain was simply magical, scoring for himself, setting his teammates with opportunities to make baskets, being every-single-where on defense, and becoming, more or less, the only silver lining in the game of Panathinaikos. It was through his guidance that the guests came back from the 61 – 51, which was written on the boxscore one minute into the fourth quarter. But he didn’t stop there. With eight seconds to go, and the score 73 – 70, he took matters into his own hands, got rid of Davis Bertans’ defense with a great step back move and dropped the three-pointer which sent the match to overtime.
Diamantidis finished the match with 17 points and 6 assists but had few serious helps from his teammates. Elliot Williams added 12 points, five of them near the end of the fourth period, but he had 5/14 from the field and made three turnovers, while dishing zero assists.
Panathinaikos entered the game in an adequately aggressive manner, playing smart, finding a fair amount of scoring opportunities and solutions from the bench. One of them was Ognjen Kuzmic who played great defense on Bourousis, while making the most of his teammates passes on the other side of the court.
While Baskonia was looking at the Greens’ back at the beginning of the second period, a quick 7 – 1 partial score allowed the hosts to get ahead. Even though the Greens got the lead once more, a jump shot by Mike James sent the two teams to the locker rooms with the score being 38 – 36.
With a sequence of downtown baskets, coach Perasovic’s players stormed into the second half and moved on the driver’s seat with a difference of nine points, 47 – 38, three minutes into the third period. But that was the moment when Diamantidis began to heavily impact his team’s game, successfully countering the action of Laboral Kutxa and keeping Panathinaikos at a close distance.
His huge basket from behind the arc in the last seconds of the fourth quarter gave his team a second fighting chance, but Panathinaikos made nothing out of it. The devil was in the details during the overtime and Baskonia played smart enough to control these little things that decide really close games like this one.