Valencia triumphs in Piraeus after 17 years
Valencia Basket got a valuable 85-96 win over Olympiacos Piraeus at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Wednesday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Reds. It was the second time that Valencia ever claimed a victory on that court; the first was in November 2003. The visitors, who improved to 9-5, took control of the game from the very beginning, built a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, enlarged it to 54-71 in the third and resisted all comeback attempts launched by the hosts in the fourth. Bojan Dubljevic paced the winners with 20 points and 9 boards in just 23 minutes. Derrick Williams contributed 16 in the same playing time, while Nikola Kalinic provided 14 and Klemen Prepeplic added 11. Olympiacos, which fell to 7-6, was led by Kostas Sloukas, who tallied 18 points and 7 assists. Shaqueille McKissic followed him with 16 points, Sasha Vezenkov had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Livio Jean-Charles scored 14 in defeat.
Fernando San Emeterio contributed 6 points and Dubljevic added a layup to put the visitors in front, 5-8, in the early going. Olympiacos struggled on offense as it couldn’t find anyone other than Jean-Charles and Vasilis Charalampopoulos on the offensive end. That allowed Valencia to build a double-digit lead, 9-19, thanks to balanced scoring distribution. Sloukas and Vassilis Spanoulis came to the rescue from the line, but Kalinic and Williams responded from the same place to close the first quarter with a 16-25 visitors’ edge. Mike Tobey provided a three-point play and Martin Hermannsson drilled a three to help Valencia amass a 20-31 lead, which Dubljevic and Williams extended to 22-35 soon after. Vezenkov took over after the Reds called for an urgent timeout, sparking a reaction that Spanoulis fueled from deep and McKissic capped from the line to reduce the gap to 32-37. The visitors didn’t panic and counterattacked with Kalinic, who led his team’s offense to recover a comfortable margin, 34-45. Then Prepelic showed up, hitting a fast break three and adding 2 free throws to give the visitors a 39-52 advantage at halftime.
Sloukas came up big after the break, pouring in a triple and feeding Jean-Charles inside to bring Olympiacos within 44-52. A technical foul called on Coach Georgios Bartzokas aborted the reaction, though, as Dubljevic followed with 7 points in a row to make it 46-62. The hosts found some momentum from behind the arc, but so did Valencia. Prepelic, Dubljevic and Williams drilled a three each to raise the difference to 54-71, but the Reds didn’t surrender. Hassan Martin and McKissic led an 11-3 run that kept Olympiacos alive, although Mike Tobey's tip-in helped Valencia retain a double-digit lead, 65-76, entering the last quarter. The defensive intensity increased on both ends as neither team managed to make any run and each basket was immediately responded to by the opponent. Williams banked in a tough shot and Kalinic followed with 4 points of his own to make it 76-90 with less than 3 minutes to play. The hosts found free throws by Vezenkov and a timely triple off an offensive rebound from Sloukas to try to stay into the game, 81-90. It ended up becoming the last attempt for Olympiacos, though, as Dubljevic and Hermannsson secured a couple of free throws each to seal the outcome in the last minute of the game.
Leading the competition in two-point shooting and assists, the visitors proved again to be one of the most efficient teams on offense. They had an impressive 65.7% on two-point shooting, 47.6% on three-pointers and dished 20 assists. Valencia was 6 for 6 on twos in the first 12 minutes of the game until Nikola Kalinic missed a basket in the second quarter.
Bojan Dubljevic had an impressive performance against the Reds, not only because of being able to score 20 points on very good percentages, to grab 6 offensive rebounds and to register a PIR of 29, but for doing in in just 23 minutes on court.
Did you know?
Valencia Basket had a 1-9 record against Olympiacos and was on a nine-game losing streak against the Greek powerhouse before this game. Valencia’s only victory in Piraeus before took place on November 13, 2003, when it defeated Olympiacos 69-77 behind 16 points from Dimos Dikoudis.
Olympiacos Piraeus will try to bounce back in 48 hours against another Spanish team; the Reds host Real Madrid on Friday, December 18. Valencia Basket will stay on the road to visit Belgrade to face Crvena Zvezda the same day.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020