By Vangelis Papadimitriou/ email@example.com
The early double-digit lead was not enough for Panathinaikos to get a safe distance from Kolossos H Hotels in the Semifinals of the Greek Super Cup.
The team coached by Dejan Radonjic edged out the tournament hosts, 72-67, in Rhodes Saturday.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the third quarter, especially in defense,” pointed out the play-caller of the winning side.
Both sides exchanging blows for most of the second half resulted in a tie, 64-64, midway through the last quarter. The Greens went for a win-clinching 6-0 run down the stretch. Kaunas-born Marius Grigonis was responsible for half of those points en route to the 13-point effort. Fellow Lithuanian Arturas Gudaitis fired in 14 more points.
“We need to improve, really,” said Gudaitis, “We are a new group of guys, a new coach and new players. It is very early to talk about weaknesses. We are trying and working hard every day, we will see what we can do.”
Derrick Williams had 14 points, sharing the team-high. His dunk shaped a five-point lead, too much to cover for Kolossos with 16 seconds left in the tight affair.
Missing injured Nate Wolters, Panathinaikos struggled on both ends of the court. Limited to 6/19 from beyond the arc was a huge issue, but lesser than the 22/35 free throws for the night.
Despite fouling out with seven minutes remaining, TJ Starks scored a game-high 20 points. The 24-year-old American guard was the biggest threat presented to the odds-on favorites of the game. Newcomer Marquis Teague was not available, a few days after arriving in Rhodes.
Taking on rival Olympiacos or Promitheas, Panathinaikos will look to win the first domestic title of the 2022-23 season tomorrow Sunday. Up next will be Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 1 and Real Madrid coming to visit Athens Thursday.