Greece’s two top basketball teams produced convincing displays in their final group stage matches and have earned home court advantage in the quarter finals.
Panathinaikos beat Unicaja Malaga 103-95 in overtime, the result seeing them finish top of their group.
Olympiakos also topped their group thanks to an 88-80 win at Tau Ceramica. They will face Real Madrid in the quarter finals.
Unicaja Malaga 95 (OT)
In a thriller that ultimately did not affect the group standings, Panathinaikos lost their 22-point second-half lead before hanging on to beat visiting Unicaja 103-95 in overtime in Athens. Three 3-pointers in the final minutes of regulation time to the Spaniards into over time after the tremendous fight back.
Malaga provided a strong resistance to the Greek champions and challenged PAO all the way up to the final minutes of overtime.
The hosts had to come from behind to take the game to overtime (85-85) but in the five minutes added on they were lethal in attack, scoring 17 points to Malaga’s eight.
Eleven of those 17 points came from US shooting guard Drew Nicholas, including three crucial three-pointers. Mike Batiste led the winners with 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Nikola Pekovic scored 13 points in just in 15 minutes, while Stratos Perperoglou and Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 12 points each.
The win saw PAO score their fifth win in six games in the second group stage.
They will now play Italy’s Montepaschi Siena in the knock-out quarterfinals for a place in the play-offs.
PAO will have home advantage in the best-of-five series that starts on March 24.
Tau Ceramica 80
Olympiakos produced an impressive performance against one of the strongest teams in the tournament, taking the lead in the first few minutes and rarely looking like they would let it slip.
Though Tau rallied to within a point with four minutes to play, the Greek side held on for arguably their best win of this season’s Euroleague.
Theodoros Papaloukas and Giannis Bourousis combined for a quick 7 points then and Panagiotis Vasilopoulos buried a killer triple entering the final minute to ice the victory for Olympiacos.
Nikola Vujcic led the winners with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Yotam Halperin added 16 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting, while Bourousis and Jannero Pargo scored 11 each.
“We went through a short crisis in the second half, but we managed to keep calm,” said Olympiakos coach Panayiotis Yiannakis.
“I have to congratulate my players because we showed that we are able to play great basketball on a tough court like this.
“They try always to play fast in transition, but we found the way to minimize their fast tempo basketball. We reached today the level that we want to be at this moment of the competition.”
Olympiakos’s win over Tau means that the Spaniards will face Barcelona in the quarterfinals.
Significantly, it also means that Olympiakos will play the first two games of their tie against Real Madrid at home.
If the best-of-five series needs to go to a fifth game, then that will also be played at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The first match in the series will be on March 24, followed by the next game two days later. Olympiakos will then play in Madrid on March 31. If needed, the fourth and fifth games will be played on April 2 and 8.