By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
A tactical battle brought Real Madrid in the driver’s seat with the 75-72 home win over Panathinaikos OPAP in the final Game 1 action of the EuroLeague playoffs. Pablo Laso’s side relinquished a 14-point lead built in the beginning of the second half, but fought through the visitors’ composure to secure the “W” at the WiZink Center.
The Whites beat the Greens for the sixth consecutive time. Fabien Causeur was a constant offensive threat in the second and third period leading his team in both quarters with six points to his name. Jeffery Taylor dropped 11 of his 13 points in the first period.
“In general I’m quite happy for our response in a very difficult situation. It got got complicated when we fell six points behind. We need to play better on Friday to win” Laso said commenting on the match.
A total of 11 players got on the board, but it all came down to a series of strong defensive efforts down the stretch, especially the last two in the last minute. A 16-2 run gave Panathinaikos a 72-66 lead, but the hosts closed out with a 9-0 run of their own.
“They had their hands on Keith (Langford) in every pick-and-roll, but we didn’t get the calls. That’s part of the game” Rick Pitino said during the press conference after the thrilling game.
Nick Calathes got hot in the fourth quarter and starred in the big comeback with 12 out of his 17 points, but his team couldn’t hold on. Facundo Campazzo didn’t allow the 30-year-old Greek point guard to do more damage when it counted the most.
“Facing Nick Calathes is very tough, he is one of the best point guards in the league. Tonight he made good shots, so it is tough to find solutions to stop him. I think we did a great job for 40 minutes, but we can’t stop him at zero points” Causeur mentioned after the game.
Deshaun Thomas followed with 12 points and Ian Vougioukas finished with 10 including 7 in the second period for Pitino’s team.
Real got the 1-0 despite missing injured Sergio Llull. On the other side, questionable James Gist suited up, but only put up two points in 12:10.
The two clubs will meet again at the Spanish capital on Friday. The best-of-five series will continue next week in Greece.
Photo Credit: EuroLeague