03 April 2019 - Panathinaikos OPAP Athens qualified to the EuroLeague playoffs, after defeating Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, 87 – 67 at home for the final round of the regular season in Nick Calathes’ historic night. They will play against Real Madrid in the 3-6 matchup, in what will be a rematch of last year’s showcase.
Calathes was unstoppable all night long against the Montenegrin side. He scored 11 points, handed out a career-high 17 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds to notch an extremely rare feat in the EuroLeague competition.
“We always believed as a team. We’re a veteran team, and the coaches and players believed we could be in this position because we knew we could get better,” said Calathes after the final buzzer. “I don’t know how many people believed on the outside, but in that locker room, everyone believed. [On the playoffs against Real Madrid] We owe them one for sure, we’re going to be a tough team. It’s going to be a grind for both teams, and we’re confident we can go there and beat them in their home court.”
After a relatively slow start, Rick Pitino’s side went up by double-digits in the second quarter (49-36), thanks to Nick Calathes’ incredible playmaking ability. The 30-year old star had an insane 11 assists in the first half, surpassing Theodoros Papaloukas for the 7th spot in the all-time assists list.
James Gist and DeShaun Thomas were scoring on the block and Panathinaikos seemed to have control of the game in the second half. As the crowd was expecting Calathes to grab his 10th rebound in the final period, Buducnost cut the deficit to nine points (72-63) and challenged the hosts. Calathes connected with Gist in the following minutes and ended Buducnost's hopes.
Besides Calathes’ huge game, James Gist also had his best game of the year, with a season-high 23 points and six rebounds. Thomas added 17. For the visiting side, rising star Goga Bitadze scored 16 points and eight rebounds.
Source: Eurohoops News