From Guru of Patras
Panathinaikos – Zalgiris
Panathinaikos started well and although it has not done the preparation that his coach wanted, seems to have team chemistry and rhythm. But the team is unready and in many cases avoids playing consistently at a high tempo and they lower the tempo intentionally. In Zagreb without playing superb basketball they exploited their quality and depth and just took advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses and won easily. They had the lead with 33-61 in 30 minute and then chose to put on the brakes.
The same thing happened with KAOD in the Greek league where they won easily 95-74 but still chose to reduce speed at the end and didn’t try to kill the opponent. They are expecting a big crowd in Olympic Stadium for the game. Remains a team with quality and experience, playing excellent defense, but is also productive in offense having variety in offense. This year they have probably the deepest bench in recent years. Lets not forget that Maric is back healthy so they are stronger around the basket.
* Zalgiris on the other hand was slow to find a replacement for Elias Zouros, but eventually agreed with the experienced Aleksandar Trifunovic who knows the team after having worked in the past with them. The Lithuanian team is a bit behind. With Malaga started well and led by 11 points and controlled the game until the 38 minute (73-69).
But they lost their cool at the critical moment played poor defense at some possessions and so the game went to overtime where they lost. They also lost with 86-92 from Novcorod in VTB League. There has yet to find chemistry as a team and they are not relaxed since the year started with changes and they need time to digest the philosophy of new coach.
They try to play defense, but they are not the best defensive team of the tournament by a mile. Generally they have a good roster but with many similar players who play all in the perimeter. Their frontline is not that strong either so they have a weakness in rebounding and the matchups near the basket. Playing away they are a tricky team but only if you underestimate them.
* Panathinaikos wins easily but Zalgiris is not such a bad team to lose by 20 points and thus to pick the Greens to cover the handicap at -15. Moreover Zalgiris changed coach, and have players with talent at scoring.
The pace is also another issue. PAO is able to score 80-85 points as Zalgiris does not play great defense and a score close to 80-85 for PAO and 70-72 points for Zalgiris is the logical scenario and prohibitory to bet something.