By Amy Samin
Starters for Maccabi were Yogev Ohayon, Keith Langford, Richard Hendrix, Devin Smith and Lior Eliyahu. Panathinaikos jumped out to a 6 – 2 lead early in the quarter, but a tip in by Hendrix and points in the paint by Eliyahu soon tied the score. Langford drove in the lane to put Maccabi up 8 – 6, but over the next four minutes the lead changed hands six times; once again it was Langford who put the lead in Maccabi’s hands, 17 – 15 with less than a minute and a half on the clock. The visitors tied it at 17, but two free throws by team captain Tal Burstein gave Maccabi a 19 – 17 lead as the quarter ended.
The Greeks tied things up in the opening seconds of the second quarter, but Hendrix responded with a hook shot off a dish from Theo Papaloukas. Panathinaikos balanced the scales then took the lead, 23 – 21 off a layup by Dimitris Diamantidis. Maccabi’s defense kept the visitors from jumping to a lead much bigger than fourpoints, but the Greeks made seven trips to the charity stripe in the period (more than twice as many as Maccabi). Midway through the period with the score 30 – 25, Ohayon grabbed a steal but failed to convert; luckily Smith was there with the putback. Eliyahu added three buckets and Ohayon added a layup but Nick Calathes scored a three pointer to make it 40 – 35 with 31 seconds left in the half. David Blu added a point from the foul line for Maccabi and Mike Batiste did the same for his team; the half ended with Panathinaikos leading 41 – 36.
Panathinaikos started the third quarter with an 8 – 2 scoring run that put them up 49 – 38 after two minutes. Ohayon, Eliyahu and Langford (with a three off a dime from Eliyahu) closed the gap to 49 – 47 at the halfway mark. Four quick points by the visitors opened the lead again, but team captain Tal Burstein drained a shot from downtown to put Maccabi back within one basket of tying the score, 53 – 50 with just over a minute left in the period. Diamantidis scored from the foul line to end the period with the Greeks up 54 – 50.
Once again Panathinaikos put some distance between the teams, 59 – 51 two minutes into the final quarter. Langford scored five straight points for Maccabi to once again make it a close game, 60 – 58, but the visitors responded with four points of their own. Demond Mallet sank a perfect trey from the left corner (assist Langford)to make it 64 – 63, and Eliyahu soon followed off another dish by Langford to put Maccabi on top 65 – 64 with four minutes left in the game. An exchange of free throws by the teams ended with Panathinaikos once again in the lead, 70 – 67 with just under three minutes remaining. Those minutes mainly saw Diamantidis at the charity stripe where he converted 4 of 6 to give reigning European champions Panathinaikos Athens the 78 – 69 victory over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in Game 4 of the quarterfinal series. Game 5 will be played on Thursday in Athens.
Maccabi: Smith 14 points, 7 rebounds; Langford 14 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 block; Eliyahu 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Ohayon 9 points, 9 rebounds; Hendrix 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks; Burstein 5 points; Blu 3 points, 5 rebounds; Mallet 3 points; James 2 points, 1 rebound; Papaloukas 1 rebound, 1 assist.
Top scorers for Panathinaikos: Calathes 15 points; Jasikevicius 13 points.