A defense that didn't care to let the other team breathe was the key factor as Olympiacos stayed undefeated in Group G with a 69-59 home win on Wednesday against Adecco Asvel of France. The victory lifts Olympiacos to 2-0 as it waits to see what happens on Thursday between Union Olimpija and Barcelona. Asvel dropped to 0-2 after a pair of road games and most hope it can pick up a win when it finally plays at home. Maurice Evans was the big gun for the Reds with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Milan Tomic remained hot with 3 three-pointers among his 13 points and Christos Harissis added 11 for the winners. Sacha Giffa led Asvel with 16 points and Simon Petrov added 14, but for the most part, the Olympiacos locked down the markmen on the French team, limiting the visitors to 35% shooting in both two-pointers and threes.
Olympiakos started the game with Giorgos Giannouzakos at power forward, so Ignacio De Miguel stayed on the bench. The Reds tried to run the floor and to create fastbreak opportunities, but three-pointers and good team defense, especially in the low post, were the weapons with which they took the lead. Giannouzakos, Christos Harissis and the usual suspect, Milan Tomic, hit three consecutive three-pointers to give Olympiakos a 13-8 after 8 minutes. De Miguel, who was called from the bench, Maurice Evans and Demarco Johnson increased the margin to 19-8, at the end of this period, as Asvel struggled to score against the Olympiakos defense. The French champs didn't have offensive alternatives when Stevin Smith didn't score a single point during the first quarter. Sacha Giffa was the most active player, but not enough for the French team to stay close to Olympiakos.
By the beginning of the second quarter Asvel coach Philip Herve decided to leave the individual defense for a zone, but Tomic sank a big three for 22-8 after 11 minutes. The Reds seemed to be the boss of the game, as Villeurbanne missed a lot of shots, even free throws. Harold Mrazek and Igor Petrov were called from the bench to provide more aggressiveness and Giffa moved to the center position, but nothing changed dramatically for Asvel, as the Reds managed to keep a double-digit margin at 29-17. Davor Marcelic hit the very first three-pointer for the visitors, 4 minutes before halftime. That combined with Petrov's 2 free throws cut the margin to 29-24. The Reds faced some problems against the zone defense, but even under these difficulties, they didn't lose concentration nor the lead. At the end of the first half, Olympiakos was leading by 33-26. Tomic and DeMarco Johnson had 8 points each for the Reds and Petrov 7 for Asvel.
Olympiacos continued to lead, but Asvel made a serious comeback attempt after halftime. Andre Owens hit a three-pointer to bring his team closer, 37-35, after 24 minutes, something that alarmed the Reds. Great defense was always the key factor for Olympiacos, but now it took also advantage of some offensive rebounds, good shots and lay up opportunities. Thanks to the outstanding defense and high shooting percentages, Olympiakos made a 21-4 run during the last 6 minutes of the third quarter. By the end of 30 minutes, with Maurice Evans leading the way, the lead had soared to 19 points at 58-39. Evans had moved all the way down to power forward to take advantage of his leaping ability and was able to draw a fourth personal foul on Asvel's only center, Vasco Evtimov.
After just 2 minutes in the fourth period, Asvel managed an 0-8 to cut the deficit back to 58-47, but Olympiacos answered answered in kind, reeling off 7 unanswered points to make it 65-47 after 35 minutes. Giffa then hit 2 consecutive three-pointers, but he didn't have a lot of support from his teammates. Harissis left the court with his fifth personal foul after 36 minutes, but it didn't cause a serious problem to Olympiakos.E vans played excellent both inside and outside, De Miguel added his usual points and rebounds, so Olympiacos controlled the game and registered its second victory at the Euroleague Top 16.
Wednesday, March 5, 2003