Panathinaikos came from 14 points down to defeat Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 83-76 in the opening Euroleague Top 16, Group E clash at the OAKA on Tuesday.
The Greek side were left exposed in the first two quarters as Alex Tyus was the joyful recipient of several alley-oops and the exciting transition style of basketball gave Maccabi a 32-18 lead at one point.
The hosts would gradually find their way back into the game and veteran Dimitris Diamantidis helped Panathinaikos along with Esteban Batista, the latter top scoring with 16 points. It was Diamantidis’ clutch bank shot and AJ Slaughter’s mid-range pull-up with less than a minute left that sealed the win.
“We started on the right foot in the Top 16 and I am very happy for the whole team and for myself because some injuries affected my performance and I didn’t play well in the last games,” Batista said.
“We came back twice in the game and we fought until the end to win it. We didn’t give up although they had a 14-point lead and we played with passion and energy. I am optimistic that we will keep fighting and make it to the next round.”
Brian Randle and Nate Linhart led Maccabi with 18 points each.
Galatasaray also got off to a winning start in Group E with a 78-69 win over Zalgiris in an empty Abdi Ipecki Arena in Istanbul, as the punishment for the Red Star fan, stabbed out side the arena during the regular season continues.
The Lithuanian champs led 47-39, midway through the third quarter, but a pair of baskets-plus-fouls by Zoran Erceg and some great plays by Sinan Guler turned things around. The hosts entered the fourth quarter up 57-55 and never let Zalgiris back in it.
“[Defence] was the key of the game,” Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman said afterwards. “We spoke about it at half-time that we must improve our aggressiveness and that will improve our confidence. We also got some fast break points and it changed the game in the second half.”
Erceg and Guler each scored 14 points to lead Galatasaray, while Carlos Arroyo added 12 points and 5 assists. James Anderson paced Zalgiris with 15 points.