Rick Pitino makes triumphant return to Panathinaikos

2019-11-28T21:40:23+00:00 2019-11-29T00:04:40+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

28/Nov/19 21:40


Panathinaikos blew out Baskonia in Rick Pitino’s season debut with the “Greens.”

By Eurohoops team / info@eurohoops.net

Rick Pitino couldn’t have pictured a much better return at the helm of Panathinaikos. The Greek powerhouse crushed Baskonia 100 – 68 for Round 11 of the EuroLeague regular season in Pitino’s first game with the team this campaign.

“The great thing was that we came here with a defensive mentality. I’m really excited, pumped up and happy for the guys,” Pitino said after the game. The Hall of Fame coach also heard his name being sung by Panathinaikos‘ fans as the team registered its third straight win and improved to 7-4. Baskonia, that was coming off two consecutive victories, dropped to 5-6.

With Nick Calathes (12 points, nine assists, six rebounds) setting the tone early via points and assists and Jimmer Fredette making buckets (21 points on 4/5 3-pointers), Panathinaikos began assuming control in the second period. It was, after all, something that Pitino requested of his players during a timeout.

Baskonia fell behind 45 – 35 at halftime and was overwhelmed 26 – 15 in the third period. Save for some scoring glimpses by Youssoupha Fall (12 points, seven rebounds) and Tornike Shengelia (12 points, six rebounds), the visiting squad was unable to keep up with its opponents, shooting the ball poorly, even from the free-throw line (6/14). In the meantime, Panathinaikos proceeded to make it a 30-point game in the final lap, when DeShaun Thomas scored 2/2 from the line for the 91 – 61 to increase his own output to 15 points.

Nik Stauskas added 12 points from Baskonia, nine of them in the first quarter.

Offensive problems affecting the defense

Baskonia coach Velimir Perasovic tipped his hat off to Panathinaikos while talking about how the team’s offensive issues also hurt their defense.

“They had a great shooting percentage and played very easily on offense,” Perasovic said. “We had problems to score in the last two quarters and their advantage went up and we gave up in the last moments. We now have a lot of injured players and have problems to score in important, tough games. When you don’t score, also your defense goes down. We played very good defense in a lot of games, but it is not easy to play on the road against great teams like today. When they score easy, you need to have answers to this. In those moments when you have problems scoring, the other team scores at all times and the results go down. This is what happened today.”