Bayern defends its top-5 position in the EuroLeague with victory over Panathinaikos

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FC Bayern basketball players remain the surprise team in the EuroLeague: The Munich team defeated Greek champion Panathinaikos Athens on Thursday evening with a final score of 76-71 and have a 18-10 record. Thus, the team of head coach Andrea Trinchieri completed the Double Week after the victory in Belgrade (78-76) and temporarily moved up to third place. Bayern was once again down by double digits at the start (35-24) due to poor shooting before a block by JaJuan Johnson against Athens' 7ft center Papagiannis prevented a 13-point deficit - and gave the start for a 13-1 run before the break. The physically strong guests retook the lead after the change, but an irresistible defensive performance by the FCBB team and big plays by top scorer Wade Baldwin (27 points) made it a happy ending for Bayern.

The FCBB are now challenged twice in a short time in the BBL: On Sunday (15:00), the week comes to an end with the BBL road game at Rasta Vechta, and on Tuesday evening they host Braunschweig.

FC Bayern Basketball - Panathinaikos Athen 76-71 (37-36)


Wade Baldwin (27 Points/6 Assists/3 Steals), Vladimir Lucic (14), Jalen Reynolds (10), Paul Zipser (7), James Gist (5/5 Rebounds), JaJuan Johnson (4), Leon Radosevic (4), Zan Mark Sisko (3), Nick Weiler-Babb (2), D.J. Seeley, David Krämer und Diego Flaccadori

Top scorer Panathinaikos:

Mario Hezonja (14 Points)


Miguel Angel Perez, Mehdi Difallah, Saulius Racys

Points per quarter Bayern - Panathinaikos: 14-21, 23-15, 20-19, 19-16.

Stats: Two-point shooting: 50% (FCBB) // 58% (Panathinaikos); Three-point shooting: 38% // 22%; Free-throw shooting: 83% // 60%; Rebounds: 24 // 34; Assists: 13 // 14; Turnovers: 11 // 16.

Andrea Trinchieri: "First of all, I have to congratulate Coach Kattash and Panathinaikos for their performance, because it was very hard to beat them. They play a special style of basketball and we had to go over our limit to win. We won it because my players - everyone, even those who didn't shine on offense - gave their maximum performance on defense. From the 25th minute, we played incredible defense: We were super aggressive, full of energy, everyone helped everyone. That was the key to the victory. Of course, there were some very important individual performances, from Wade and Lucca. But without the effort of the whole team and everyone standing out on defense, it would have been a different game. So congratulations to my players, they made me proud. Because it's easy to ask something from a team - but it got a great response from them."

Wade Baldwin: "We did a good job of getting the offense going. The opponents did a lot of switching, so that made it easier for me. On defense, JaJuan Johnson in particular did a great job, we also rebounded well and got stops. That led to the win."

JaJuan Johnson: "This was a nice team win. We played great defense in the second half and especially in the last quarter. That made the difference. My block (against Papagiannis before the break) was nice. As the coach always says, we need those plays with special efforts, and I'm happy that I managed to do that. This was a victory of mentality, and we must continue and not stop. Baldwin has been carrying us all season with his inspiring point guard play."

Herbert Hainer: "It's always incredibly exciting with our team, but they just win in the end; I think that shows the character of our team: they never give up, they give everything until the end. We have now won 18 games in the EuroLeague, which is a fantastic achievement. The mentality and the fitness of this team is great, the coach makes them incredibly fit, also mentally. (...) You have to congratulate Marko Pesic and his team for putting the team together and, most importantly, finding the right coach for us. We wanted to play attractive and fast basketball; Trinchieri has managed that incredibly well alongside the strong defense."            

Game recap:
Wade Baldwin, Nick Weiler-Babb, Vladimir Lucic, JaJuan Johnson and Jalen Reynolds were the starting five or Bayern. The Greek champion put a lot of pressure on the hosts right from the start, but Reynolds held his own. Three turnovers in five minutes were a big problem but good defense kept the damage in check and they were only down two at 8-6. Baldwin stepped in, following up one of his favorite shots from mid-range which turned into a three-point play that made it 11-10 (7th). The lead did not last long, mainly due to a poor offensive performance and at the end of the first quarter Bayern trailed 21-14.

Trinchieri tested different line-ups against the tallest team in the EuroLeague, which hurt Bayern on the offensive boards (29-22/13th). Despite their coach's attempts at motivation, the Munich team had difficulty in finding its rhythm. They were somewhat passive at the back end and static at the front. Faced with a 6-0 run by the visitors and a double-digit deficit, Trinchieri took a timeout (18th). A huge stop by Johnson was the momentum changer that breathed life into the team and initiated a brilliant 9-0 run for Bayern. But the exclamation point behind the first half was a four-point play by Baldwin that extended the run to 13-1 within 130 seconds and a 37-36 lead at the break. 

The FCBB seemed hell-bent on carrying the momentum over from the first half and Baldwin hit a three-pointer to start the quarter. Trinchieri drove his men passionately to combat the Greek length with his teams' speed. The plan worked and the lead was extended: Lucic was on fire and his three-pointer made it 47-40 (24th). An highlight-reel dunk by Baldwin over the clearly taller Mitoglou would have made the Audi Dome explode with spectators in normal times (50-42/25th). Athens wasn't finished, however, and rallied back via there patented physicality (53-52/29th). Baldwin came back on the court and the lead held - 57-55 after the third quarter.

Panathinaikos played Bayern neck-and-neck and it was clear that this game would come down to the wire. Bayern's defense continued to increase its intensity and Lucic and Baldwin worked hard for a win. The latter radiated a fabulous calmness and self-confidence and brilliants scored over the giant Georgios Papagiannis - casually scorign with a layup (68-63/36th). Zipser's dunk after a fastbreak toook a 70-63  lead and the bench went wild. Athens remained unpleasant and came back to within five, 72-67 (39th). Time was on Bayern's side, however, and Baldwin proved to be the best player on the floor this night (74-67/40th). The victory was more than deserved.


Photo credit: Eirich, Rauchensteiner, Stickel, Pahnke

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