Barca edge Mac TA to round out Last 16, Panathinakos next

The Greeks beat Unics Kazan 68-63, setting up a meeting with the yellow-and-blue in this season’s quarterfinal playoffs.

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March 1, 2012 05:41
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Sofoklis Schortsanitis

Sofoklis Schortsanitis 390. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Maccabi Tel Aviv will get a chance to avenge last year’s Euroleague final defeat to Panathinaikos after the Greeks beat Unics Kazan 68-63 on Wednesday to set up a meeting with the yellow-and-blue in this season’s quarterfinal playoffs.

Maccabi lost 70-67 at Barcelona in its final Top 16 game on Wednesday, but it had already locked up second place in Group H last week, making the outcome of the game between Kazan and Pana 3,727 kilometers away the only significant result of the day.

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There was little to separate the Russians and the Greeks throughout the game, but the reigning Euroleague champion held a slender lead for much of the night and eventually secured first place in Group G, ensuring it will have homecourt advantage against the yellow-and-blue.

Panathinaikos will host the first two games of the bestof- five series, which starts on March 20, while the following two encounters are set to be played in Tel Aviv, with Game 5, if needed, to take place in Athens.

Antonis Fotsis and Drew Nicholas left Pana for lucrative offers from Olimpia Milano last summer, but otherwise the Greeks have held on to the core of the roster which led them to a Euroleague triumph last year.

Last season’s Euroleague MVP and Final Four MVP Dimitris Diamantidis, who shined in the 78-70 win over Maccabi in the title game, is still around, as is Serbian coach Zeljko Obradovic.

Obradovic is in his 13th season as Pao coach and is looking to claim his ninth Euroleague title in total and a fifth with the Greens.

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Blatt is hoping to reach his third Final Four as Maccabi coach and he will need to find a way to guide the yellow- and-blue to a road win in Greece to do so.

Panathinaikos lost two of its three Top 16 home games, but Maccabi has struggled this season against strong teams away from Nokia.

Tel Aviv dropped three of its five regular season road games, while also losing in two of its three in the Top 16, including against Barca on Wednesday.

Richard Hendrix capped an outstanding first period in Spain with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, taking his personal total to 15 points and giving Maccabi a 21-19 lead after 10 minutes.

Tel Aviv was still within touching distance at the break (34-33), but Barca pulled ahead in the third quarter (51-44) and led by as many as 13 points (57-44) after C.J. Wallace’s three at the start of the fourth frame.

Maccabi closed to within two (64-62), but couldn’t complete the comeback and dropped to another road defeat.

Hendrix led Tel Aviv with 24 points and 10 rebounds, with Keith Langford scoring 15 points. Pete Mickeal had 20 points for Barcelona.

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