Sluka's estrus, Nan's hand and Grigonis' horrendous goal-foul in a three-way ticket to Berlin

The personalities of Panathinaikos AKTOR spoke again, after an orgiastic first half and a response from Virtus. Yannis Fileris writes about the oestrus of Slokas, the basket of Nan, and the most precious of all. Goal-bowl by Marius Grikonis…

Sometimes when you get a hit like Kendrick Nunn's buzzer-beater, it's better than an almost flattering first half. Panathinaikos Aktor's friends, some in the Sagrafedo Arena and others watching the match on TV, are sure to have jumped from their seats (or chairs) to celebrate the American scorer's terrific basket. Or were they already standing?

On the contrary! Because, more importantly, the immediately preceding basket by Marius Grikonis was even more difficult. Bologna almost completed their great comeback from -17 down with a three-pointer from a monster corner by Tobric. With 51'' to go on the clock, Nunn attempted a three on 32 but the ball found the iron.

Grikonis took advantage of the home team's oligarchy for a blackout, won the ball, cut to the point and equalized with an extra shot to win this super-valuable goal foul. Crucially, it was this basket that kept the Panathinaikos player alive, as even if I had missed (Lunberg had already missed his own three-pointer) the game would have gone to overtime.

Without the terrible intervention of the Lithuanian, instead of joy, the celebrations that accompanied the end of the match and the march without a break to the second place in the ranking, could have been a completely different situation. But that's basketball. Grikonis, who almost missed a free kick as a penalty, got his blood back before Tobrich's three-pointer!

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However, this season's Panathinaikos A.K.T.O.R. Players, big personalities and talent, each individually, can make a difference. Before Grigonis and Nunn struck, the amazing Slukas played. The “green” leader, on an extravagant night (with 20 points, 7/11 shots and 3 assists), did not want to defeat Bologna under any circumstances. From the moment he stepped on the field, he became a huge headache for Banki and his players.

When he cut the mickey, it looked like lightning. He made an incredible basket, Hackett stuck with him and then immediately forced the Italian to fall on him. Passion radiated from his jersey, his own drive leading the entire team. As I said, “He carried us on his back, the whole match”.

Earlier, at the start of the tournament, another special player from the roster created by Ataman was in action. Gerryon Grant was the main reason for Panathinaikos' incredible crescendo at the start of the match. He shifted into fifth gear, pressed the gas, and signaled to the others. Panathinaikos didn't back down in the first half, finishing with 51 points and 8/12 three-pointers!

When the ball catches fire…

Such a performance cannot last forty minutes. As help from the bench disappeared again, first the fatigue of the players pulling the paddle (me, Slokas, Lesser and Mitoglou again participating +30 minutes) and then the resistance of Virtus changed the course of the match. Panathinaikos no longer takes shots so easily (8/12 tr, it happened on 3/14 replay), made mistakes and gradually lost the number.

Bologna (who finished the match with a higher 3-point percentage than their opponent, 12/26) applied more pressure, not only rallied from a 17-point deficit, but threatened PAO with a loss to advance. The second half ended 40-30 in favor of the Italians. As Panathinaikos return as winners, what matters is. Obviously not until Ataman fixes something that is repeated, but for now it will have no effect, because his best players know how to play well even with the ball “on fire”.

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The victory could have been sealed by the individual actions of Sluka and Nan, or a heroic goal-foul by Grikonis, perhaps in the fourth period when the Panathinaikos players didn't give a single assist, but who said that's not the case in basketball? That and individual element. Especially with such a high quality list and a team that has consistently overrated since the beginning of the year!

Second and ready for Berlin

It is a great achievement for Panathinaikos to finish second with more chances now. A team that was on the tail, came up again with a … wave. Eight wins from OAKA show the momentum built by the “Greens” this year. On the Ataman bench he recalled similar feats at Efes. He took her last and he made her the European champion.

Panathinaikos now holds its fate in its own hands. He only wants two wins. Next week in Munich against Bayern (a Greek expatriate crowd is expected) and against Alba Berlin in the regular season finale.

Often on their way to Berlin, Maccabi would be found. With a win behind Olympiakos and Fenerbahce, the Israelis look firm favorites to finish 7th (and finish second), with whom they are level on points. He was defeated twice by “Red and White” and lags behind the Turks in goal average.

In order for Maccabi not to finish 7th, they need two wins (Barcelona away and Milan at neutral ground in Belgrade) and two defeats by Olympiakos or Fener. We remind you that Olympiacos-Fener will take place on the last matchday, next week Piraeus will play Red Star in Belgrade and Fener will host a home derby with Efes.

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Maybe Maccabi, then. A team in full form is the same whether playing at home or away (after playing in Belgrade) and beat PAO twice in the regular season. The playoffs are just around the corner. And OAKA's big names head straight to the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin!

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