Greens grab rare road win at Khimki
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens started its new era with a hard-fought 76-78 victory at Khimki Moscow Region to tip off the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season.
Panathinaikos saw myriad off-season changes, including Georgios Vovoras taking over as head coach and a number of new players joining the roster. But the six-time EuroLeague champs used a balanced effort to get the win with Ioannis Papapetrou pacing six players in double figures on 16 points. Kostas Mitoglou had 12 points and 9 rebounds. Ben Bentil scored 11 more and Eleftherios Bochoridis and Marcus Foster both chipped in 10 each in the victory. Khimki fought back from a 13-point deficit to take the lead but ended up falling short despite Devin Booker's 15 points and 7 rebounds. Dairis Bertans added 14 points, Jordan Mickey had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Vyacheslav Zaytsev picked up 11 points and 5 assists in the defeat.
Zach Auguste's putback put the guests on the board with the first points of the season. While Booker was Khimki's only scorer early, numerous Panathinaikos players contributed, Bochoridis and Foster with three-point plays in opening a 7-15 lead. Mitoglou nailed a triple and center Georgios Papagiannis knocked down a long jumper for an 11-24 advantage. Janis Timma scored 4 points and Booker added a dunk to complete a 6-0 Khimki spurt for a 17-24 score after 10 minutes. Despite Sergey Karasev's 3 free throws, Khimki find no rhythm offensively while Bentil push the Greens' lead to 20-29. Worse for Khimki, Booker sat with 3 fouls then. Jonas Jerebko snapped snap Khimki's four-minute scoreless stretch with free throws before he and Timma drained triples. Bertans added 2 three-point plays in a 16-4 run as Khimki surged ahead 38-35. But Papapetrou's 4 points restored a 39-41 Panathinaikos lead at the break. Triples by Mitoglou and Nemanja Nedovic kept Panathinaikos up 43-48 before Booker punched back with a monster dunk and-one and Zaytsev added 5 points for a new Khimki lead 53-51. With 6 more points and a steal, Zaytsev pushed Khimki's advantage to 62-59 after 30 minutes. As Papapetrou and Mickey traded baskets, the score remained tight at 67-65. Despite Sergey Monia triple for Khimki, Papagiannis fought back with 2 free throws and a putback to even the score 73-73 with less than 3 minutes left. Papapetrou followed with a putback plus free throw before Foster's free throws with 36 seconds left made it 73-78. Bertans kept Khimki alive with a corner triple, his first in 7 tries, lowering the difference to 76-78 with 27 seconds remaining. Bertans had one more shot but missed his jumper at the buzzer as Panathinaikos grabbed the win.
Khimki missing leaders
Khimki opened its season missing some major names as Alexey Shved, Stefan Jovic and Greg Monroe were all unable to go for the Russian side.
Road team finally wins again
These teams were playing their 10th EuroLeague matchup since 2000 and Panathinaikos's win evened the record at 5-5. Khimki had won three of the last four as well as its last four home games against the Greek side. In fact, the home team had won the last six games in this series, with the last road victory being Khimki's 67-79 victory in November 2012.
Panathinaikos turned the ball over 13 times but committed only 4 turnovers in the second half. The Greens also won the rebounding battle 42-35 including 19 offensive rebounds. That helped compensate for hitting just 5-of-23 three-pointers (21.7%).
Khimki will remain at home for its next EuroLeague game, hosting Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday, October 9. Panathinaikos will return home and take on Greek rival Olympiacos Piraeus the same night.