Kostas Sloukas scores career-high as Panathinaikos ties series vs. Maccabi

2024-04-25T22:13:02+00:00 2024-04-26T01:13:15+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

25/Apr/24 22:13

Sloukas - Panathinaikos (4)

Kostas Sloukas on fire and 1-1 in the series between Panathinaikos and Maccabi.

By Eurohoops team / info@eurohoops.net

Kostas Sloukas scored a career-high 29 points to lead Panathinaikos Athens past Maccabi Tel Aviv 95 – 79 in Game 2 of the EuroLeague playoffs. The series is now tied and Games 3 and 4 will be held at Belgrade, hosted by the Yellows.

“I’m very proud because of our performance,” Sloukas said after Panathinaikos‘ first playoff win since the 2018 series vs. Real Madrid. “We put hustle in the game. We didn’t play as we planned in the first quarter and that’s normal. We had pressure and they had confidence. But I think we did a pretty good job for three quarters. I said at halftime that we have to be more hungry. This is the key to the game. We have to be hungry. Because they are experienced. Last year they didn’t succeed because of details. We have to take care of the small details to take a victory at their home.”

Sloukas went particularly off at the end of the second quarter with 11 points over three minutes to push Panathinaikos towards getting a 41 – 38 lead after trailing 16 – 25 in the first period. Mathias Lessort (11 points, eight rebounds) and Ioannis Papapetrou (season-high 15 points) joined the party for the hosts that closed halftime up 51 – 39.

Panathinaikos kept controlling the game and even took a 62 – 44 advantage halfway through the third quarter. Maccabi, that was without leading scorer Wade Baldwin, made a major comeback attempt to approach 71 – 68 after a 0 – 12 run.

That was the closest they got though. Once again, the trio of Lessort, Papapetrou and Sloukas took over for a 13 – 2 run to bring Panathinaikos back at a double-digit distance.

“After the first quarter where we didn’t play good defense, we start playing good basketball,” Panathinaikos coach Ergin Ataman said. “Especially on offense. Sloukas controlled the game very well with scoring and assists. Papapetrou did a great job offensively. Defensively, we started playing aggressive. Everything was correct. The officiating was correct. Everything was correct and the whole Europe saw the difference between teams.”

Lorenzo Brown led Maccabi with 18 points and six assists for a Maccabi team that lacked important extra offensive options with leading scorer Wade Baldwin out with injury. Anthonius Cleveland had 12 points, 10 during his team’s turnaround. Jakes Cohen dropped 10 out of his 12 points in the first quarter to give the visiting side an early push.

Dinos Mitoglou contributed 14 points for Panathinaikos that was without Juancho Hernangomez.

“I think we lacked concentration for five minutes in each half,” Maccabi coach Oded Kattash said. “They made a run, we did a little comeback but to be able to win here with that atmosphere and that pressure, you have to be focused for 40 minutes. We have a lot of good things to take but basically we have to play for 40 minutes.”