Pitino: “It was an awesome victory”

The head coach of Panathinaikos OPAP stated after the end of the game against CSKA Moscow:

"It was an awesome victory. We kept talking in every timeout: 'Keep it close, keep it close like last year, we will make a run at the end.' We did that right at the end of regulation to put it into overtime. Good balance, good spacing, made the shots, Wes [Johnson] gave us a big lift on defense and offense, and Dinos [Mitoglou] in the starting lineup is giving us more rebounding.

I believe CSKA is very lucky, because Mike James should be a 15-year veteran in the NBA. He’s as good a guard as any in the NBA, with the exception of five or six. He has great range, he’s a terrific passer, and they play like the Houston Rockets. They get you in situations where you have to help, and they move the basketball for threes, but in the second half we did a much better job with our rotations stopping the threes. Congratulations to our players for the way they never gave up, they executed beautifully on offense down the stretch. We make a big change to the line-up because everybody was out-rebounding us. Dino Mitoglou is our best per-minute rebounder, and since we put him in the starting line-up it’s cured a lot of rebounding woes for us. Tonight is indicative of that: he had 16 rebounds and 25 points, and we’re real proud of his effort. Wesley Johnson gave us a big lift, and that was very important going into overtime. And we had 28 assists to 8 turnovers which is spectacular. I’ve coached against so many great coaches, and I’d put the coach at CSKA up there with any of them. What they try to do is exploit you offensively, and then you’ve got to make changes. And then whose changes win that night will decide the game. He’s doing a fabulous job, and I admire him. Plus he’s Greek, and we’re proud of him!”