Marius Grigonis Zalgiris
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

With Marius Grigonis leading his team, Zalgiris Kaunas took an impressive yet tough win on the road against Panathinaikos, 69-81, on Friday night (11/12). Panathinaikos fought back, returned on the game but that wasn’t enough for the players of coach Vovoras to get away with the win.

Marius Grigonis was the top scorer for Zalgiris with 24 points with Nigel Hayes adding another 14 points. Nemanja Nedovic was the leading scorer for Panathinaikos with 12 points while Papapetrou, Papagiannis and Mack added 10 points each.

The Match

With both teams missing several opportunities to score, Zalgiris started the game with a slight 2-point lead (2-4) but Panathinaikos playing solid defense from the very first minutes. Two free throws from Aaron White tied the game (4-4) but a beautiful offensive play from Zalgiris brought their 2-point lead back (4-6). Zalgiris managed to get their first 4-point lead with Lauvergne with Grigonis firing the triple for the Lithuanians (6-11). Panathinaikos was, pretty quickly, trailing by 9 points (8-17) with coach Vovoras calling the time out. The time out seemed to be working for Panathinaikos with Mitoglou scoring 4 consecutive points, the team stealing the ball and fighting for every possession (12-17). Zalgiris run a 5-0 score, got their largest lead of the game and the difference to double digits (12-22). Despite a few turnovers from Zalgiris, the hosts didn’t take advantage of it and ended the first quarter trailing by 12 points (12-24).

In the second quarter, five points from Dinos Mitoglou were enough to help Panathinaikos start their comeback. Zalgiris committed a few turnovers giving the Greeks the chance to close the score, return on the game and gain confidence (18-24). Despite two missed free throws from Mitoglou, Zalgiris committed another unforced error, which didn’t cost this time, with Walkup scoring for three (18-27). Panathinaikos lost their momentum with Nigel Hayes scoring his second triple of the game (18-30). Every time Panathinaikos was trying to make a comeback and close the score, Zalgiris’ shots from the perimeter were enough to prevent a greek comeback. Marius Grigonis continued his perfect shooting percentages and Zalgiris headed to the locker rooms with a 10-point lead (33-43).

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

In the third quarter, Panathinaikos played more aggressively on defense and in along with 8 points from White, Nedovic and Papapetrou, the score came down to a single possession lead for the guests (41-43), forcing coach Schiller to a time out. The Greeks used their fouls wisely, as coach Vovoras wanted and grabbed the offensive rebounds. On the other hand Zalgiris was missing their opportunities to score, made unnecessary fouls, but Grigonis was there to help them out with a triple (41-46). Panathinaikos seemed to having the momentum with Howard Sant-Roos stealing the ball and scoring two points on the fast break (45-46). Zalgiris showed some reaction and scored 4 consecutive points with Walkup and Hayes (45-50). Panathinaikos’ defense was very solid with Shelvin Mack doing his job on the offensive end, tying the game (50-50). Zalgiris immediately replied with a 5-0 run (50-55) without letting Panathinaikos gain too much confidence. Rubit scored for two, got the bonus free throw and scored a triple few seconds later, to bring his team to an 10-point lead (50-60). Panathinaikos had lost the momentum, turned the ball over, but sill their defense was what kept them alive to end the third quarter trailing by 10 points (50-60).

With their confidence high from the way the third quarter and Jokubaitis scoring the triple, Zalgiris was determined to leave Athens with the win (50-63). Panathinaikos had his last chance to return on the game, with Nemanja Nedovic scoring an easy layup (52-63). Panathinaikos took the score down to 7 points with Papagiannis scoring his sixth point of the night and rejecting Marius Grigonis on the other end (60-67). Youngster, Rokas Jokubaitis with a three-point opportunity extended the lead for Zalgiris to 10 points, but Shelvin Mack scored the triple (63-70). With almost 3 minutes left until the end of the game, Papagiannis was leading Panathinaikos to a comeback with consecutive baskets from the Greek big man (67-72), forcing the Lithuanian bench to a time out. Niges Hayes with the basket and the foul, gave Zalgiris three more points in a crucial moment of the game. Panathinaikos never managed to make another comeback with Zalgiris leaving OAKA with the win (69-81).