Basketball / Euroleague /No Redemption for Maccabi in Athens

PAO eliminates Tel Aviv with 86-85 win.

Maccabi Tel Aviv fell just short in its comeback bid, falling 86-85 to Panathinaikos in Game 5 of their Euroleague quarterfinal. The heartbreaking loss cost Maccabi a ticket to a second straight Euroleague Final Four.

Playing on the defending Euroleague champions' vaunted home court, Maccabi held its own through the first quarter, taking a 20-18 lead after 10 minutes.

However, PAO owned the second quarter, quickly going up by double digits and holding a 41-32 advantage at halftime. The two teams played dead even in the third period, as Panathinaikos could not pull away but neither could Maccabi make a run to tie up the game.

Maccabi still trailed by eight with four minutes to go when the visitors made their last thrust, starting with a field goal from the left flank by David Blu with 3:55 remaining.

Keith Langford's three pared PAO's lead to four at 81-77 at the 1:14 mark. Smith then fouled out, but Panathinaikos missed its free throws, while Langford converted his shots from the charity stripe to make it 81-79.

Blu later made a three-point play to keep Maccabi's hopes alive, down 83-82.

Yogev Ohayon immediately fouled Dimitris Diamantidis, who converted his two shots, giving Maccabi a chance to tie with 11.3 ticks left. Looking for Blu, who was well covered, Ohayon inbounded to Pnini, and he was fouled while taking a three-point attempt. Pnini coolly made all three shots with 9.8 seconds left.

But with seconds left, Hendrix fouled Diamantidis, who made his first shot. Tal Burstein rebounded the ball but got stuck in traffic and could not get a shot off before the final horn.

Diamantidis led all scorers with 25 points, while Blu paced Maccabi with 14.