VILNIUS - Despite a furious comeback by Zalgiris against Panathinaikos in the third quarter, the Lithuanian team succumbed to exhaustion and foul trouble taking their fourth loss in as many games ending 78:83 and failing to advance in the Europleague playoffs on March 17.
Playing in Athens, the Kaunas-based Zalgiris wiped out a 14-point deficit in the third quarter, taking a slight lead 71:69 in the beginning of the fourth, only to see Pan-athinaikos score 10 unanswered points. An end-of-the-game surge was stopped when Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos made a steal, ruining Zalgiris' chance for a tie.
Panathinaikos controlled the first half, jumping to an early 10-point lead by the end of the first quarter and then extending the advantage by adding three-pointers going six for seven by midway through the second quarter. After Panathinaikos continued to pull away in the second quarter for a 17 point lead, Zalgiris switched to a zone, and the Greek team went scoreless for seven possessions. The Lithuanians narrowed the lead to 44:35 at halftime.
Tonaka Beard pulled in a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds for Zalgiris before fouling out late in the game. Darjus Lavrinovic and Ainars Bagatskis each scored 16 for Zalgiris while Mindaugas Timinskas chipped in 14. The Lithuanian team was hobbled by its missing point guard, Robert Pack, who had stayed home in Kaunas due to illness.
Fragiskos Alvertis scored 17 points, and Mike Batiste added 15 for Panathinaikos, which ended with a 3-1 record and tie for first in Group F with Climamio Bologna.