Nedovic, Panathinaikos use derby momentum to return to EuroLeague wins

2021-11-25T22:24:31+00:00 2021-11-26T00:57:48+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

25/Nov/21 22:24

Nemanja Nedovic was in the zone also against Zenit St. Petersburg.

By Eurohoops team /

Some days after leading Panathinaikos Athens to a Greek League road win over archrival Olympiacos Piraeus, Nemanja Nedovic carried his fire to the EuroLeague stage as well.

Nedovic scored 18 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:42 to play, and had five assists as Panathinaikos beat Zenit St. Petersburg 70 – 64 at home to snap a five-game skid in EuroLeague and bounce back to wins.

After Nedovic hit the triple for the 64 – 62 following a Zenit comeback from down 10 in the fourth period, Mindaugas Kuzminskas missed consecutive 3-pointers. On the other end, George Papagiannis received the ball above the rim from Ioannis Papapetrou to throw it in and put his team up by four.

“The last couple of weeks I feel much better,” Nedovic said. “People know what I have been through. That’s in the past. I am focusing on my team right now. I think I can help the team even more. We focused on us, we focused on our defense and kept Zenit, which is a very tough team, to just 64 points. And in the end we got the deserved win.”

Kuzminskas cut the deficit to two with 28 seconds to play and then Papapetrou made 2-2 from the line to keep Panathinaikos at a two-possession distance. A bad pass by Zenit sealed the win for Panathinaikos and the first loss for the Russian side after a five-game winning streak.

Papagiannis delivered a EuroLeague career-high 18 points along with 13 rebounds for a personal best 31 in PIR. Daryl Macon Jr. had 11 points plus five assists for the Greens.

Jordan Loyd (15 points), Conner Frankamp (14 points) and Kuzminskas (13 points, eight rebounds) scored in double figures for Zenit. Their team entered the game with a 0 – 12 run and retained a lead for most of the first half to go to the locker with a 33 – 38 advantage. Yet Panathinaikos’ zone defense changed everything after the break and the hosts controlled the third quarter 20 – 10 to move to the driver’s seat.

Zenit scored nine unanswered points to return to the match after falling behind 60 – 50 and Kuzminskas scored for the 61 – 62 with two minutes left. Panathinaikos answered back with Nedovic’s big 3-pointer and never let go of its lead this time.

“It was a big win for us, mostly for psychological reasons,” Panathinaikos assistant coach Vassilis Symtsak said. Head coach Dimitris Priftis couldn’t be in the post-game pressers due to a calf injury. “The last three weeks we have improved a lot, mostly our defense. In the game in Munich and today, we deserved the win. A big congratulation to our players and how they adapted to the way how we want to play defense. On offense, we tried to move the ball for three quarters. In the end, we were stuck on their switching defense. We played a lot of iso on outside mismatches. But in the end, we scored a big basket and played good defense and we won the game.”

End of a strong run

Zenit coach Xavi Pascual gave credit to Panathinaikos, especially for the effective way they defended in the third quarter and for how they finished the match. Pascual, who coached Panathinaikos from 2016 to 2018, was recognized by the Greens for his contribution to the club before the game.

“First of all, congratulations to Panathinaikos,” Pascual said. “For the first 20 minutes, I think we played much better than the score showed. I think we had the chance to lead by 10 points or more but we missed a lot of shots under the basket and easy baskets and we didn’t score. In the second half, Panathinaikos was much better than us, especially in the third quarter, when we disappeared. We didn’t score from the outside on open shots, we didn’t score inside the paint on floaters or pull-ups. We were not effective at all. We scored only 10 points. This was very important for the game. In the last part of the game, we were back. We had our chances to win, but the three-pointer from Nedovic and the alley-oop for Papagiannis decided the game. We didn’t have an answer on offense. We had a chance to score on an open shot but we didn’t score. This is the reason the game went to Panathinaikos. We came here with five wins in a row and it was our time to lose. In the EuroLeague, if you don’t deserve to win, you don’t win. And tonight we didn’t deserve to win.”