Reds rule the road and Unicaja 61-69
Olympiacos Piraeus started its Top 16 campaign with a big road win, holding off Unicaja Malaga 61-69 in Martin Carpena Arena on Friday night. Vassilis Spanoulis controlled the game, masterminding the Reds’ offense with 11 points and 10 assists, while Othello Hunter dominated inside with career-high 18 points, making 9 of 10 two-point shots, including a series of big dunks in a victory that put Olympiacos at 1-0 in Group F. The Reds took the lead for good with a 2-10 run at the end of the first quarter, and remained in front throughout the night. The visitors held off Jayson Granger, Will Thomas and Unicaja's rallies with its defense, while Spanoulis orchestrated the offense. Kostas Sloukas, Matt Lojeski and Spanoulis all hit from the outside in the fourth quarter helping the Reds to 50-59 lead, before Hunter and Spanoulis teamed up to seal the deal. Lojeski had 10 points, and Oliver Lafayette netted 9 in victory. Granger finished with 18 points for the hosts, Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 12. Fran Vazquez had a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards, while Thomas also scored 11 in defeat.
Defense and 2-10 run put Olympiacos in front
Granger drove for a layup to open the scoring, and Vazquez added a pair of foul shots. After a layup from Brent Petway, Unicaja went up 7-2 with a three-pointer from Ryan Toolson. Spanoulis drove for a layup for the Reds, and after free throws from Granger and Kuzminskas opened 10-4 margin, Petway hit a corner triple and Lojeski scored on a fastbreak at 10-9. A three-pointer from Lojeski tied it at 12-12 as Olympiacos locked down on defense, not allowing a field goal for 7 minutes to finish the quarter, and Hunter dunked an alley-oop pass from Spanoulis, giving Olympiacos a 12-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Unicaja rallies, but Reds take lead into halftime
Lafayette opened the second quarter with a mid-range jumper. Kostas Vasileiadis made 3 of 3 free throws, but Hunter’s next alley-oop dunk and a layup made it 15-21. Vazquez hit a long jumper to snap Unicaja’s drought of almost 10 minutes without a field goal, but Lafayette hit a three-pointer at 17-24. Thomas and Granger each made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit, but the Reds’ defense did not let down, while a layup from Sloukas and a triple from Spanoulis extended the difference to 21-29. After a Unicaja timeout, Carlos Suarez scored in the crowd and Vazquez nailed a jumper to halve the deficit. Free throws from Kuzminskas and Vazquez got the hosts within 29-30, but Olympiacos remained in front and free throws from Georgios Printezis made it 29-32 at halftime.
Unicaja keeps coming back but Olympiacos stays in control
At the start of the third quarter, Thomas scored a second-chance basket for the hosts, but Spanoulis sent a beautiful pass for another alley-oop slam from Hunter, 31-34. Granger answered with a floater, before Georgios Printezis scored basket-plus-free throw and Hunter muscled his way inside for 33-39. Granger and Lojeski traded baskets from close range, before a put-back from Printezis made it 36-43. Granger drove for another baseline basket, and Thomas scored from close range for 41-43. Lafayette hit from long range to keep Olympiacos in front, and Hunter’s second-chance points kept the the Reds there despite Thomas scoring another layup to make it 45-48 after three quarters.
Spanoulis and Hunter hold off Unicaja
Olympiacos started the fourth period with a big baseline dunk from Petway, and Sloukas nailed a three-pointer for 45-53. After free throws from Kuzminskas, a corner triple from Lojeski made it 47-56. After a timeout, Vazquez made a nifty move in the paint, but Spanoulis hit a tough shot from long range to make it 50-59. Toolson knocked down a baseline jumper, but Hunter made a huge put-back dunk. Unicaja was far from done, as Kuzminskas hit from behind the arc. Again, however, Hunter was in the right place on the offensive boards for another monster dunk, 56-64. Kuzminskas hit another one from behind the arc, and after Spanoulis fed Hunter for a layup, Granger drove for his own at 61-66. But Spanoulis nailed a three-pointer from way downtown, sealing the deal.
Friday, January 2, 2015