Panathinaikos clamps Fenerbahce in defensive showdown; advances to first EuroLeague championship game in 13 years

Ergin Ataman knew that defense was key in the semifinal and Panathinaikos clamped Fenerbahce for most of the game beating them 73-57 to return to a EuroLeague championship game for the first time in 13 years.

Mathias Lessort outplayed Fenerbahce bigs with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Kendrick Nunn added 14 with 8 of them coming in the first half and Jerian Grant had 13. Nigel Hayes-Davis had a team-high 14 points, while Nicola Sestina and Marko Guduric had 10 each.

The Greens kept Fenerbahce at a season-low 57 points after allowing just 63 in the regular season contest against the Turkish team in Athens.  Fenerbahce shot 25.3 percent from deep and committed 15 turnovers for 14 assists. Panathinaikos also had 17 turnovers but won the rebound battle 37-29.

It was a special moment for Panathinaikos head coach Ergin Ataman as he made his third Final-4 championship game in the last four seasons. Pana outscored Fener 17-7 in the final 10 minutes.

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Panathinaikos opens the floodgates in the 4th quarter

Panathinaikos began the game strong and rushed out to a 12-0 start to put Fenerbahce on the ropes. The Turkish club had four turnovers in the first five minutes. Fener remained scoreless for more than five minutes, with Nigel Hayes-Davis scoring the first basket for them. Panathinaikos remained active in defense and closed the first quarter with a 22-13 advantage.

Fenerbahce put together a 7-2 run to cut the deficit down to 24-20, but a breakaway three by Kendrick Nunn and another shot from Juancho Hernangomez kept Panathinaikos ahead (32-23) with less than five minutes for the end of the first-half. Fenerbahce finished the first half on high note, powered by Nigel Hayes-Davis, who scored 12 in the opening 20 minutes to keep Fenerbahce one basket away (38-36).

For Pana, Kendrick Nunn had a massive haul of 8 points and 5 rebounds in the opening half, but the Greek team was unable to keep the distanc it created at the start of the game from its opponents.

The game came to life with defenses getting setting the front of a back-and-forth battle. Panathinaikos had a small advantage but Fenerbahce kept its composure and after a three from Tyler Dorsey cut Panathinakos lead to 51-50 six minutes in the third quarter.

Fenerbahce was unable to score in the next four minutes in large part to Panathinaikos’ hard-nosed defense and three-pointer from Panagiotis Kalaitzakis put the Greens up 56-50 with after 30 minutes. Panathinaikos hustled its way to a 10-point (60-50) lead after two free throws from Panagiotis Kalaitzakis.

The Greens kept their defensive intensity up and manufactured a 65-52, the biggest lead in the game, after an and-one play from Kendrick Nunn.


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