Panathinaikos has tied the Euroleague quarter-final series with Barcelona at 1-1 after a 66-65 win at the Palau Blaugrana.
Dimitris Diamantidis, a big-game performer for the Greek side struck with 8.4 second remaining, as he hit a dagger three-pointer to steal home court away from Barcelona and give Panathinaikos the advantage for game three in Athens.
James Gist had 14 points to lead the victors, but it was Diamantidis’ contribution that made the difference. The Greek veteran ended with 10 points.
“We tied the series, but nothing is finished,” Diamantidis said. “We play against a very difficult team. We tied; nothing more. They have an experience team. We have to prepare for the next games. We must be ready for the next game. We won the game, but no one player can beat a team.”
Juan Carlos Navarro led all scorers with 20 points to lead Barcelona as they get ready to face quite possibly the most imtimidating atmospheres in world basketball as 19,000 fans will fill the OAKA for the third game.
Panathinaikos edged ahead after the first quarter despite a positive start from the hosts with Navarro picking up where he left off in game one. Sofoklis Schortsanitis got the better of the much quicker Nathan Jawai to answer for the Greens and it was they that led 16-11 after the first exchange.
Barcelona though hit back, much to the delight of their supporters through Marcelinho Huertas, as he found gaping holes in the Panathinaikos defence frequently to lead his side to a 32-27 half-time lead. The visitors though fought back even though they began the third ten points down. Roko Ukic stepped up to lead Panathinaikos but Barcelona still had a 50-48 edge after three quarters.
Diamantidis though came good when it mattered despite the efforts of Navarro and company.
“Today’s game was one with great suspense,” Panathinaikos coach Argiris Pedoulakis said. “The positives were that we played good defence and controlled the pace of the game. These were the two keys to our win tonight. Offensively I believe that we played better on Tuesday than we did tonight.”