In another Euroleague classic, Panathinaikos kept their Istanbul Final four bid pretty much alive with an emphatic win in Nokia arena.
As opposed to Game 3, Obradovic opted to start the game with Smith at power forward. Panathinaikos showed they are not joking starting the game off with a spectacular Calathes alley hoop pass to Smith for the dunk. Maccabi found solution in the offensive end and took the lead for the first time, 8-6. Although Sato accumulated two quick fouls, Panathinaikos got in charge, 13-15. However it was the Maccabees who closed the first quarter in the lead, 17-15.
In the second half the Euroleague champs tried to feed their paint and Vouyoukas reached eight points, with many of them coming from the charity stripe. With former Maccabi legend Jasikevicius scoring behind the arc, Panathinaikos got their biggest lead yes, 25-30. Taking advantage of the poor FT% by the Greens and their strong presence under the rims Maccabi cut the difference down to two, 31-33. However Panathinaikos increased their lead before heading to the locker rooms for the half time, 36-41.
Panathinaikos started the second half in fashion as they got the biggest lead of the game, 38-49. However after Blatt’s time out Maccabi responded with a quick 9-0 run for 47-49. It was Obradovic’ turn to ask for a time out, after which Panathinaikos settle for a four points lead after thiry minutes of play, 50-54.
At the start of last quarter Panathinaikos increased their lead to eight, 51-59. Maccabi had all the answers and quickly made the score 58-60. Blatt put in the forgotten Mallet in the game who gave the lead to the Tel Aviv side, with a threepointer form the weak side, for 65-64. Panathinaikos got in the bonus and took charge of the game based on that with Diamantidis free throws, 67-70. Unlike previous games of the series, Hendrix couldn’t convert both of his free throws and at that point it was clear who the winner would. Panathinaikos just made their free throws while Maccabi’s long range shots didn’t go in.
The series now move back to Athens, where a historic Game 5 between two legends of Euroleague is expected in front of a sold out OAKA, next Tuesday. Nothing is over and both teams start from scratch, as Maccabi’s PG Ohayon very well knows, who stated:
“Now there is a fifth game. We have proven we can win and we need to go there prepared […] Our coaching staff will prepare us the best way possible and we will go to Athens ready.”
Zeljko Obradovic wanted to highlight the quality of the entire series: “Everything that has happened in this series has given a lot of people in Europe great entertainment and they are happy to see another game. There are people who have forgotten that Panathinaikos are European champions. Some people already eulogised us […] I enjoy every time that I come here to to play in this arena, because the people here know basketball. I hope to be here again soon.”
Coach David Blatt tried to mentally uplift his players before the decisive Game 5: “I told my players I’m proud of them more than any coach can be proud o his players. We will check what went wrong, keep our heads up and and go to Athens with a desire to win […] It’s going to be one of the toughest games in the history of this club.”
Score by quarters: 17-15, 36-41, 50-54, 69-78
Maccabi TA: Papaloukas, Hendrix 7, Smith 14, Blu 3, Eliyahu 12, Mallet 3, Pnini, Burstein 5, Ohayon 9 (9rb), James 2, Schortsianitis, Langford 14
Panathinaikos: Maric, Perperoglou 7, Batiste 4, Logan, Sato, Tsartsaris, Diamantidis 12, Vouyoukas 8, N. Calathes 15, Smith 7, Kaimakoglou 12, Jasikevicius 13