Olympiacos pounded Montepaschi 89-41
Olympiacos routed Montepaschi Siena, 89-41 on Tuesday at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus for a record-setting victory in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Quarterfinal Playoffs opener. The Reds started the game with 19 unanswered points and set records for fewest point allowed in a half (9) and fewest through three quarters (22). Head coach Dusan Ivkovic’s men also set a Playoffs record with 55 rebounds and the largest Playoffs margin of victory at 48. It was Olympiacos’s sixth straight win and the ease for the Reds makes them the prohibitive favorite to win the best-of-five series, which resumes Thursday on the same court for Game 2 before heading to Italy next week. Loukas Mavrokefalides paced the winners with 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Ioannis Bourousis’s first Euroleague game back from injury resulted in an impressive 14-point, 12-rebound and 3-block performance to help manufactured the big lead. Vassilis Spanoulis added 11 points and 4 assists for the hosts, while Zoran Erceg scored 10 and Rasho Nesterovic recorded 9 points and 7 boards. Ksistof Lavrinovic finished with 12 points and Malik Hairston totaled 10 in defeat for Siena, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped. Perhaps the only good news for the Italian champs was that Bo McCalebb and Rimantas Kaukenas both returned from injuries to play.
The hosts went inside early to Bourousis, but the big man opened the scoring from behind the arc, as Olympiacos stiffened the visitors inside game, defensively crowding Shaun Stonerook and Hairston into contested shots, and jumped to a quick 9-0 lead after a Jamon Gordon pull-up and a couple of Spanoulis free throws. Siena tried to climb out of the hole after burning a timeout, but struggled to seal the defensive glass, as Bourousis converted on a three-point play and Spanoulis swished a triple to stretch the lead to 15-0. The Reds scored 19 points and Montepaschi missed 11 shots before finally getting on the board through a Nikos Zisis three-pointer. The visitors had been outrebounded 14-5 at that point. After 10 minutes, the Reds were in total control at 24-4, had not allowed a two-point basket and registered the second-best defensive opening quarter in Euroleague Playoffs history.
If anybody thought the relentless Olympiacos defense might let up after the break, an Erceg breakaway dunk to start the second quarter hinted at more of the same, and the big man and Nesterovic collected a couple of blocks on the defensive end to keep the visitors frustrated at 33-4. Marko Jaric finally shook loose to end the two-point drought with a mid-range jumper. But Montepaschi still could not find its way in the hosts’ defensive maze, and Olympiacos kept attacking on offense as well. And with highlight-reel material, too: after Theodoros Papaloukas tiptoed the baseline, the veteran playmaker found a cutting Gordon down the lane and assisted him with a blind pass for a monster dunk that ended up as a three-point play and 36-6 lead. Montepaschi head coach Simone Pianigiani went to the bench in a desperate effort for a spark and Bo McCalebb stepped on the floor for the first time since the end of the Regular Season. Siena still could not manage to get out of the funk, however, and Bourousis converted on another ‘And-One’ on an inside move to pull away to 47-9. When Siena did manage to produce open looks, it simply was not able to drop them, and the half ended with the local fans enjoying a record-setting performance by Olympiacos.
A much-needed halftime rest benefited Montepaschi, who came out more aggressive in the second half. The offensive struggles continued, but at least coach Simone Panigiani’s team managed to defend its own end with more flair, if not much better results. Bourousis was still a load at both ends, as he blocked a Milovan Rakovic shot attempt and followed with his 4th offensive rebound to force a foul from the forward before converting both free throws to make it 53-9. With the game out of reach, Marco Carrareto saw some playing time on the visiting end and eased the pain some with his team’s second triple of the night. Siena improved its quarter scoring to a more respectable 13 points by the end of the period, closed at 61-22 thanks to a most-unusual 5 unanswered points by the visitors.
The minimal 1-point difference in the previous quarter seemed to be something to build on for Siena, but Olympiacos wanted to make a statement in the first game of the series and kept pressing matters in the fourth quarter. While Nesterovic scored near the rim, Yotam Halperin swished a triple and then Erceg converted a three-point play to extend the margin to 75-25. Montepaschi still battled in the closing minutes, trying to jump the lanes defensively for some easy buckets and pushing the tempo on the rare occasions the hosts did not score. But the quarter still went to the hosts, who cruised the rest of the way, as both teams started looking towards Thursday’s Game 2.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011