By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Valencia blew a 16-point lead in the fourth period against Panathinaikos until ultimately beating its opponents 94 – 87 to improve its EuroLeague record to 11-11 and retain a spot in the playoff spots of the EuroLeague standings.
Panathinaikos lost its first game after three straight wins and dropped to 13 – 9. The “Greens” entered the fourth period with a 2 – 18 run to come back from a 80 – 64 deficit and tie the score 82 – 82 with three minutes remaining. They didn’t manage to complete what they started.
Bojan Dubljevic scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Valencia while putting his signature in a critical play in crunch time. The Montenegrin big man scored a decisive layup for the 80 – 87 with one minute remaining while winning the foul. Although he missed the free throw, he grabbed the offensive rebound for Alberto Abalde to drive to the basket and dunk the ball to hand his team an 92 – 87 lead.
On the other end, Jimmer Fredette’s 3-point attempt with 45 seconds to play went off target and Panathinaikos saw its winning chances getting completely trimmed.
“Really important victory for us but we cannot relax now,” Dubljevic said. “We have another game in two days and then it’s a double week in the EuroLeague, so I hope everybody stays healthy and we can push forward. It was tough but I think we really prepared the game well, it was a great job by our coaches and we just followed what they said.”
Nick Calathes finished with game-highs 22 points and 10 rebounds plus five assists while Tyrese Rice dropped 21 points for Panathinaikos that was unable to stop the hosts from scoring in the first 30 minutes.
Valencia led 55 – 45 at halftime had 80 points at the end of the third period thanks to great shooting from beyond the arc (14/29 overall). The Taronja also found extra points via its opponents’ mistakes (21 points off turnovers) and offensive rebounding (20).
Quino Colom had 14 points and six assists for Valencia. Aaron Doorknekamp dropped 13 points.
The fans’ effect
Valencia coach Jaume Ponsarnau made a special mention to the fans of the team for creating an atmosphere that helped the “Taronja” claim the win.
“It was very difficult game because they are a very talented team,” Ponsarnau said. “At some moments we had a lot of problems with our rhythm on offense. They defended well but above all, and thanks to our patience, we played smart, we played brave and La Fonteta helped a lot and we could win. I think we showed great character. We found a lot of players with a very good mentality and the crowd, I must insist, was great. It is important for us to play good at home.”