Milutinov leads Olympiacos over Baskonia in thriller
Olympiacos Piraeus made it two road wins out of two with a resilient display to triumph 80-85 over KIROLNET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in a thriller at Fernando Buesa Arena. Nikola Milutinov was a consistently outstanding presence for the winning team, registering 23 points – including two key baskets inside the final minute – and 11 rebounds. He had help from Axel Toupane, Nigel Williams-Goss and Vassilis Spanoulis, who all scored 11 points, while Janis Strelnieks added 10. Toko Shengelia inspired Baskonia with 21 points, and Jayson Granger added 17 on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Vincent Poirier combined 10 points and 9 rebounds for the hosts. Olympiacos led nearly all the way and was up by 16 at one point, but was forced to withstand a spirited Baskonia comeback which made it a 3-point game in the final minute.
Poirier was prominent early as he opened the scoring with a three-point play before making a monster block on Milutinov. A pair of quickfire triples from Kostas Papanikolaou sent Olympiacos ahead, and Toupane’s second three-pointer helped make it 19-27 after 10 minutes. Shengelia and Diop scored inside to narrow the gap, and Janning's triple completed a 7-0 run. Seven quick points from Milutinov stabilised Olympiacos and Toupane sank a long three for a 32-41 edge. The Reds stayed strong with a layup from Strelnieks. A triple from Spanoulis on the buzzer made it 39-50 at the break. Shengelia started the second half with a triple, but Olympiacos responded again to take command at 42-58. Patricio Garino scored 5 straight before Milutinov and Toupane continued their great nights to extend the advantage, but Granger gave Baskonia hope with a three-quarters court buzzer-beater at the end of the third. Baskonia battled back and a triple from Janning and three-point play from Shengelia further narrowed the gap, before Granger struck from long distance to make it 71-75. Sasha Vezenkov came off the bench to score twice and seemingly seal the deal, but Granger hit a triple and Poirier made a steal and slam for a 78-81 deficit with a minute remaining. As ever, Milutinov was there for two more baskets, and that was enough for Olympiacos.
Milutinov makes the difference
Milutinov came up big at key moments, making his first big contribution with 7 points in two minutes to derail a second-quarter Baskonia comeback, and delivering again at the death with 6 points and 2 rebounds in the final two minutes.
Free throw perfection
After a tight first quarter, Olympiacos started to move clear and one of the main reasons why was a perfect record from the free throw line, with the visiting team converting all 12 attempts before the interval.
Shengelia's show of strength
Toko Shengelia did not deserve to be on the losing side after delivering a true captain’s performance for Baskonia. Last season’s All-Euroleague selection showed fantastic strength and footwork inside the paint to convert 7-of-10 two-point attempts.
Tough luck for Hilliard
Baskonia suffered some bad luck when summer signing Darrun Hilliard went down with an ankle injury early in the second half to prematurely end his home EuroLeague debut. The extent of the injury will become clear in the next few days.
Olympiacos will play its first home game of the season on Friday, welcoming AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. On the same night, Baskonia travels across Spain with a road trip to reigning champ Real Madrid.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018