By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Panathinaikos head coach Rick Pitino emphasized the difficulty of his team road game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, commenting that the Israeli team is playing “maybe the best basketball in EuroLeague” at the moment.
“Well, they are playing their best basketball this season. They blew out Barcelona, they were up by 30 points. They beat CSKA in Moscow. So they are playing great basketball right now. Maybe the best basketball in EuroLeague,” Pitino told Nova Sports prior to Panathinaikos‘ departure for Tel Aviv.
Panathinaikos and Maccabi Tel Aviv are tied at the ninth spot in the EuroLeague standings (together with Zalgiris Kaunas and Olimpia Milano) with an 8 – 11 record. There are eleven games left in the regular season.
“We are getting better defensively. But the one problem we have – it’s our biggest problem – is that we don’t shoot the ball great. That’s not going to go away until personnel changes,” Pitino said. Panathinaikos is the second worst 3-point shooting team in EuroLeague with 30.87%. Only bottom-placed Darussafaka Tekfen is less effective (30.34%).
“Like I always tell people. Steph Curry isn’t walking in,” Pitino added.
On Panathinaikos guard Nikos Pappas’ season-ending injury, Pitino said: “He was one of few the guys that have been shooting the well of late. We are fortunate that we got Sean Kilpatrick in at the right time. Injuries are part of the game, there’s not a whole lot you can do about that. Nikos is playing good basketball and it’s a blow to the team, certainly. We wish him nothing than the best in having surgery, coming back and getting back to good health.”