Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens overcame Anadolu Efes Istanbul's comeback attempts to claim victory by 80-74 (26-23, 21-11, 12-20, 21-20) and seize first place in the 3rd "Pavlos Giannakopoulos tournament" held at the OAKA Arena in Athens, with 7,950 fans in attendance.

The 6-time EuroLeague champs made an impressive show in the second quarter, outscoring their opponents by 21-11 and never lost the lead during the entire game. Daryl Macon had 13 points and 8 assists for the winners, with Floyd adding 10 and Nedoci-Perry chipping 9 apiece. Giorgos Papagiannis dominated the interior game with 8 points, 15 boards. The Micic-Beaubois duo stood out for Efes, since they went for a combined 34 points (17 apiece) and 8 assists, while Tuncer scored 11.

For the home side, Ioannis Papapetrou sat out for purely precautionary reasons as he felt a slight discomfort in the hip after a fall in PAO's game against Partizan. For Efes, Shane Larkin, Chris Singleton, Tibor Pleiss, and Krunoslav Simon were again unavailable. 

Five points by Beaubois and as many by Micic gave Efes as six-point edge (6-12) only three minutes into the game. Nedovic responded with a four-point play before being drawn to the bench. The Greens could not hold down Beaubois, who went 3 of 3 from downtown, causing an early time-out by Priftis. 

The EuroLeague champs kept circulating the ball with ease, however, they had a hard time defending the hosts' transition game. Panathinaikos took risks (like Okaro White's attempts from the perimeter) that resulted in them taking a three-point lead (26-23) at the end of the first quarter. Priftis got the most out of White and Floyd, since the two combined for 12 points.

Giorgos Papagiannis initiated an impressive start for the Greens in the second quarter. Six points, a dominant presence in the paint against EuroLeague rookie Filip Petrusev, accompanied by three blocks, was the fuel that PAO needed in order to increase their lead to 14 points (39-25).

Efes instigated a 0-9 run (39-34) triggered by Micic's penetrations, but that didn't bother Priftis's men one bit. In fact, they came back with an 8-0 run of their own, which culminated in Macon hitting a three-pointer off the dribble on Petrusev's defense. Panathinaikos were up by 13 (47-34) at half-time, keeping Efes to only 11 points in the second quarter. 

Micic and Beaubois kept the Turkish team in the game, given that the Greek defense had successfully fortified their paint against each and every Efes's big. Bochoridis hit a three, Sant-Roos stole from Beaubois and Evans dunked to hand the hosts a 16-point lead (57-41). The former Armani Milan forward showed his ability to attack the close-out and became a reference point when Floyd was benched with his 4th foul. Ataman's squad capitalized on open looks, which ended up in three consecutive daggers by Tuncer and Anderson, which cut down the deficit to just 5 (59-54) when the horn blew.

A partial score of 2-13 proved enough for the reigning champs to claw their way back into contention (64-60). Saybir dunked twice in transition, an indication that the Greens' defense has lost all consistency. Micic made a tough three and drew a foul from Papagiannis (69-64).

Save a basket from Saybir, Efes couldn't score for almost four minutes, allowing Macon to essentially finish off the match with 8 consecutive points. 

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens: Macon 13 (8 AST), Floyd 10, Nedovic 9, Perry 9, Papagiannis 8. 

Anadolu Efes Istanbul: Beaubois 17 (3 AST), Micic 17 (5 AST), Tuncer 11 (3 AST), Anderson 9.

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