Rice, Thomas push Panathinaikos past Zalgiris

2020-01-17T22:27:13+00:00 2020-01-17T23:22:35+00:00.

Antigoni Zachari

17/Jan/20 22:27


Panathinaikos outlasted Zalgiris at home to end this double-game week on a good note.

By Eurohoops team / info@eurohoops.net

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens defended its homecourt against feisty Zalgiris Kaunas and grabbed a 96-94 victory for Round 20 of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.

Tyrese Rice stepped up for the Greek side, ending the game with a 20-point performance. “We fought today and we knew they were going to fight all the way to the end. We knew it would be a close game and we knew it was going to come down to who wanted it more, and we made the plays in the end” he said after the game. “We are happy but we are not satisfied with where we are at. I think we are maybe one or two games back from third place or something like that. We just have to make a move and take advantage of it.”

DeShaun Thomas was key in the fourth period and followed with 16 points, while Nick Calathes enjoyed another double-double night with 14 points and 11 assists.

On the other end of the court, Thomas Walkup and Lukas Lekavicius led all Zalgiris scorers with 16points each.

Panathinaikos survives Zalgiris’ reaction in the fourth quarter

Zalgiris had the upper hand in the first period, given their momentum from Wednesday’s victory against Crvena Zvezda, and managed to lead 27-18 after 10 minutes, though Panathinaikos recovered some ground in the second quarter to trim the margin to 49-46 at halftime.

Rice helped the hosts get ahead in the score 60-59 at 27′, while even expanded their lead to 71-66 after 30 minutes.  Entering the fourth, Calathes and Papagiannis took charge to place the Greens ahead 78-72 (33′), with Walkup trying to find solutions for the Lithuanian team.

Thomas helped the hosts grab an 89-78 advantage with less than three minutes left in the game, and despite Zalgiris’ late surge, Rice and Fredette (11 points) were there to seal the final result.

“We couldn’t stop them. We were scoring, one of the highest-scoring games of the season for us. We didn’t get to stop them and that was the key. I thought we didn’t get respect in some 50-50 situations that also influence a two-point game”, said Sarunas Jasikevicius in the post-game press conference. Zalgiris now falls to a 6-14 record, a tie in the last position of the standings with Zenit St Petersburg.

Panathinaikos ends this double-game week with a two-game streak and a 12-8 record, remaining safe in the playoffs race so far. Rick Pitino commented on the importance of this win, despite the blunders, as he specified, in the final minutes.

“We made a number of blunders. When you can win with those blunders, you learn never to do them again in the next game. I think that’s a good learning experience for the guys. I’m ecstatic from two EuroLeague wins coming back to back with great courage”, he mentioned.

Photo: EuroLeague