Olympiacos sent a message that echoed all around Euroleague Basketball by downing back-to-back champion Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-78 at home in Athens on Thursday. Both teams now share a 1-1 record in the Group B standings. Olympiacos broke its opponents' 11-game Euroleague winning streak dating back to last regular season with the help of a former Maccabi player, Quincy Lewis, who led the Reds with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Tyus Edney added 14 points while youngsters Sofoklis Schortsianitis and Reinaldas Seibutis each had 13 points for Olympiacos. Will Solomon had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals for Maccabi. Anthony Parker added 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting while Jaime Arnold scored 10 for the Euroleague champs. It all came down to the final minute, as back-to-back baskets by Schortsianitis ignited a 10-0 run in the final 2 minutes to seal the outcome for Olympiacos.
Nikos Barlos opened the scoring for Olympiacos with a catch-and-shot three-pointer, but soon Solomon sank free throws to get Maccabi started. Both teams concentrated on defense, stealing balls and forcing errors. Edney and Solomon traded layups, but the game's slow tempo was seen in a 5-5 tie after 5 minutes. Maccabi had made only 1 of 7 shots so far while suffering 6 turnovers. Olympiacos was not much better: 2 of 6 shooting plus 5 turnovers. Derrick Sharp came in and lifted Maccabi with 5 quick points on a jumper-plus-triple combination that put Maccabi ahead 8-10. Edney reacted, but Kirk Penney answered back from behind the arc to make it 10-13 for the visitors. Maccabi started to find solutions in the paint, too, with a basket-plus-foul by Jamie Arnold, while Penney scored before the buzzer to close a 4-13 run with the guets ahead 12-18 after 10 minuts..
Edney and Lewis revived Olympiacos with 7 points early in the second quarter to cut the difference at 23-22. Solomon scored for Maccabi, but Lewis remained hot for the Reds with another triple. Now, young Seibutis copied him and Andrija Zizic made 2 free throws as Olympiacos regained the lead at 28-27. Parker dunked for his first points, but Lewis reconnected from downtown and roused the fans further by blocking big man Nikola Vujcic's shot. Olympiacos led 33-29, but Solomon kept Maccabi close by driving and scoring free throws such that the hosts led the guests by just 39-36 at the break.
Maccabi seemed to take over after halftime wth a 0-9 run punctuated by a Parker triple that seized a 39-45 advantage. Olympiacos struggled against Maccabi's changing defenses until the time came for Panagiotis Vassilopoulos to jump off the bench and revive the Reds with 4 consecutive points that made it 43-45. Tal Burstein answered from the corner and later Arnold landed another triple for Maccabi, but Vassilopoulos wasn't done. His next triple made it 48-51, after which a few baskets came easy for both teams. Seibutis finally tied it, 54-54, before Burstein hit a difficult basket-plus-free-throw for Maccabi. Schortsianitis and Lewis scored 3 points each for Olympiacos, but Parker took the situation in his hand with two lay-ups in the traffic as Maccabi regained a 60-61 edge after three quarters.
Olympiacos started the final quarter with three 21-year-olds - Schortsianitis, Vassilopoulos and Seibutis - who contributed with Lewis and Edney to an 8-0 rally that vaulted the Reds in front, 68-61. Yaniv Green ended Maccabi's three-and-a-half minutes of scoring silence with 6 points in a row that cut the margin to 68-66. The spirit of the champs showed as Vujcic drained a big three-pointer to give Maccabi the lead again, 68-69, with 5:30 to go. Burstein nailed another triple and Green a layup to finish a 0-13 run with Maccabi ahead 68-74. But the Reds were not done yet. After 4 scoreless minutes for Olympiacos, Lewis made free throws before connecting behind the arc, making it a one-point-game again, 73-74, with 90 seconds left. Vujcic dunked from the baseline for Maccabi, but Schortsianitis soon scored the paint to give Olympiacos the lead at 77-76. Edney added a pair of free throws and as Parker missed the jumper, the Olympiacos fans went crazy with 27 seconds still to go and Olympiacos in front at 79-76. Edney hit another couple from the line to seal a first win in Group B, a very big one, for Olympiacos.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Stelios Kyriakoglou, Athens