PAO defending OAKA in front of Zalgiris

On Friday, in O.A.K.A Arena, Panathinaikos receive the visit of Zalgiris Kaunas, in Round 20 of Turkish Airlines Euroleague. In their last meeting, the Greek team was able to get to win after a very balanced game 86-85, despite huge efforts made by Zalgiris in the last quarter. The MVP of the game was Nick Calathes, finishing the game with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Now both teams meet in a good period on both sides, so this game should be very interesting.

Panathinaikos are back in the winning ways, with 2 victories recorded over Lavrio and Bayern in the last game. Against Bayern Munchen, the team played very good basketball on both sides, scoring 50% of their attempts and won the rebounds battle 40-21. They need to choose their 3-point shots wisely because in this game they ended with only 6 made out of 24 attempts. Their main contributors were: DeShaun Thomas (18 points and 9 rebounds), Ioannis Papapetrou (13 points and 9 rebounds) and Nick Calathes (11 points and 12 assists). Coach Pitino is very happy with his squad and everybody is good to go for this game. 9 players had more than 13 minutes in the game against Bayern and the story must be the same here.

Zalgiris had some problems before, but now everything seems to settle down and the victories are coming, with a good effort from the team. They won 3 of their last 4 games, losing only in Spain against Real Madrid 88-82. In their last game, they travelled to Serbia to play against Crvena Zvezda, in a game that the only result available for them was the win. Despite having 11 fewer attempts to the basket then their opponents, Zalgiris players choose their shots more carefully and took advantage of 52% of their shots, compared to 40% from Crvena. They played very well defensively, especially on Kevin Punter, who finished the game with only 5 points in 22 minutes. He was in very good form lately, but Coach Jasikevicius tactics stopped him. The main contributors for Zalgiris were: Lukas Lekavicius (17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists), Zach LeDay (10 points and 5 rebounds) and Jock Landale (9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists). For this game, only Marius Grigonis is out.

Both teams won their recent matches which means their morale is very good. Zalgiris played in Serbia two days ago, so they had to travel a small distance to Athens which gave them some time to rest. I expect a tough match, but in the end, Panathinaikos will be victorious, thanks to their stronger roster and nice support from their fans.

Photo: Euroleague

Bogdan Vasile Tirc