After having started the regular season 0-5, Olympiacos moved into position to make the Top 16 from Group C when it downed visiting Adecco Asvel 82-61 in Athens on Thursday. The Reds raised their record to 6-7 and climbed into a fifth-place tie with Idea Slask Wroclaw, who lost a shootout at first-place Efes Pilsen. If those two teams remain tied after the 14th and final games of the regular season next week, Olympiacos will finish fifth and qualify by virtue of holding a point-differential advantage in their two head-to-head games, of which each team won one. Forward Evangelos Sklavos exploded for 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists off the bench for Olympiacos. Goran Jurak ruled inside with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Panagiotis Liadelis added 13 points for the winners. For Asvel, whose record dropped to 2-11, Derek Hood had 12 points, Karim Souchu and Sasha Giffa 11 each.
Led by Jurak, who scored 5 points and grabbed 6 boards after only 5 minutes of play, Olympiacos made a 7-0 run to a 10-2 lead to start the game. Asvel turned its defense to a 2-1-2 zone, took advantage of the bad offensive game of the hosts and blasted off on a 3-12 run to jump ahead by a point, 13-14, at the end of the first quarter. Souchu was the key player for the visitors, with consecutive layup that allowed his team to go ahead. At the same time, the fans of the Reds who ignored the snow and went to Koridallos Arena, were encouraged when they heard that Efes Pilsen had beaten Idea Slask Wroclaw, the main rival of Olympiacos for the Top 16.
To start the second period, Giorgos Diamantopoulos took a turn find the solutions for those fans. Asvel led by 14-16 on a layup by Rolandas Alijevas, but Diamantopoulos answered with 6 quick points, a three-pointer included, to give his team the lead at 20-16 and inspire his teammates to extend the run to 11-0, worth a nine-point edge, 25-16. Asvel returned to an individual defense, but it didn't work, as Sklavos was on fire. The Olympiacos forward scored 5 consecutive points as the hosts soared ahead 30-18. Fast and furious, the Reds took advantage of the momentum and the motivation they had to win and opened the margin to 16 points, 38-22, after 19 minutes of play. Derek Hood tried to push his team, but the visitors didn't have energy and went to the locker room 16 points behind, 39-23, at the end of the first half.
Upon returning for the third quarter, Asvel tried to stay alive and to fight a little. Hood bagged 4 consecutive points and Souchu hit a three-pointer to bring Asvel within 9 points, 43-34. Olympiacos didn't panic and, thanks to Liadelis, came up with a big 12-2 push to opened the margin to 19 points, 55-36. Liadelis scored 7 of those points consecutively, a triple included. Makan Dioumassi sank a three-pointer for Asvel, but it wasn't enough to wake up his teammates. Asvel center Robert Gulyas was injured a few seconds before the end of the third quarter, which found Olympiacos 14 points ahead, 57-43.
Led by Sklavos, who showed great potential from the three-point range, Olympiacos had an easy night. Sklavos nailed 5 points in a row to extend the margin to 21 points, 70-49, after 36 minutes of play. Soon, Jurak scored for 77-54. In the absence of center Ruben Wolkowysky, the two power forwards combined for 37 points, 21 rebounds and 6 assists and sealed the clear and easy victory of Olympiacos.
Thursday, February 12, 2004