Olympiacos Piraeus is the 2011-12 Euroleague champion!
In a game for the ages, Olympiacos Piraeus came from 19 down in the third quarter to stun CSKA Moscow 61-62 and become the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion. Georgios Printezis’s floater with 0.7 seconds left won it for the Reds, who become European champions for the second time in competition history. Olympiacos also won in 1997, also under head coach Dusko Ivkovic. A brilliant game at both ends by Kostas Papanikolaou led the new champs with 18 points. Vassilis Spanoulis added 15 points and Printezis had 12. CSKA led 53-34 in the third quarter and seemed well on its way to victory, but a 14-point run brought the Reds back and they stayed close until the end. The turning point came when former MVP Ramunas Siskauskas missed twice from the line with 9.7 seconds left and his team up 1. Olympiacos came down at the other end, got the ball to Printezis and the rest is history. Milos Teodosic paced CSKA with 15 points, Andrei Kirilenko posted 12 points and 10 rebounds and Nenad Krstic added 11 in defeat.
Pero Antic banked in a shot for Olympiacos and Ramunas Siskauskas hit a jumper for CSKA to start the game, but it was the defenses of both teams that dominated first part of the game. Olympiacos forced 4 early turnovers in the first five minutes and used a Spanoulis triple to go up 2-5. On the other side, CSKA controlled their defensive boards and had Teodosic end a five-minute scoring drought with a tough long jumper. After a pair of free throws by Kirilenko, CSKA moved into its first lead 6-5. Papanikolaou responded with a drive through heavy traffic and Nenad Krstic scored from the free throw line for another lead change and a 9-7 CSKA advantage. Great intensity on defense resulted in couple of steals on both ends of the floor in the final minutes of the first quarter. Alexey Shved made a free throw to finish the quarter with CSKA holding 10-7 lead.
Defenses had their say in the second quarter as well. CSKA’s athletic front line controlled every inch underneath its own basket, but Olympiacos equaled that aggressiveness by not leaving any room for an open shot. But with a tip-in by Kirilenko and a dunk by Sasha Kaun, the Russian champs took a 14-7 lead. Olympiacos was held scoreless for more than six minutes before Papanikolaou made a couple of free throws. Krstic and Spanoulis then exchanged buckets to make it 16-11 game with six minutes left in the first half. After a timeout, it was all about Teodosic who hit back-to-back-to-back three-pointers in a span of 67 seconds to put his team up 25-13. Olympiacos tried to come back – Spanoulis drove twice to the basket, first getting to the free throw line and the second time scoring a layup – and Papanikolaou hit a three, but Darjus Lavrinovic, Kirilenko and Siskauskas all scored from the paint to keep the margin in double figures. Going into the final minute of the half, Lavrinovic hit a jumper too, to extend the lead to 14 point and after Shved’s three was ruled to be after the halftime buzzer, that ended up being the advantage CSKA had at the break, 34-20.
Krstic and Antic exchanged buckets from close range to start the third quarter. Krstic scored once again, followed by Papanikolaou and Teodosic exchanging three-pointers and CSKA going up 41-25. But the Reds’ offense got it going too, with Antic getting to the free throw line and Spanoulis hitting a wide-open three. Viktor Khryapa continued the sudden scoring spree with a triple of his own, and Kirilenko added another one with Papanikolaou’s hand in his face to get CSKA back to a 16-point margin. Points from the charity stripe and some aggressive defense helped Olympiacos stay in the game, but Siskauskas, Jamont Gordon and Shved made sure CSKA kept the big lead and made it even bigger, 53-34, with two minutes to go in the quarter. Olympiacos had only three players scoring points in the game before Kostas Sloukas hit 1 of 2 free throws and Georgios Printezis scored a fast break layup. Evangelos Mantzaris added a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the quarter to make it a 0-6 run and pull Olympiacos to 53-40 going into the last 10 minutes.
Sloukas scored a three to open the fourth quarter and Printezis made a layup to cut the deficit to 8 points. Marko Keselj was the next to score his first basket of the final, his three brought Reds to 53-48. They had two more possessions to come even closer but Sloukas missed a tough three and then threw a wild pass. CSKA was held scoreless for almost 6 minutes and allowed 0-13 run before Siskauskas scored close range. Kirilenko was a creator of another key play when he blocked Kyle Hines’ attempt for a layup, but Printezis showed hustle to score 4 points and get Olympiacos to 55-52 with four minutes to go.
CSKA’s woes continued with Krstic missing both free throws. Kirilenko banked in a shot just to see Papanikolaou hit a three and make it a 4-point game going into the final three minutes. Kirilenko and Papanikolaou both made only 1 of 2 from the line and Printezis made a layup making it 60-58 with 1 minute to go. After Teodosic missed a three-pointer, the ball went again to Printezis, but his attempt to tie the game from three meters was blocked by Andrey Vorontsevitsch. Teodosic got to the line with 19.6 seconds and made only 1. CSKA then fouled Papanikolaou with 10.1 seconds remaining. The Olympiacos forward nailed both to bring his team within 1 with 10.1 seconds to go. Only 0.4 seconds passed before the Reds put Siskauskas on the line. But to everyone’s amazement, the former MVP missed twice. Olympiacos did not hesitate. The ball got to Printezis, whose one-handed floater with 0.7 seconds left will go down in history. CSKA had one last chance for a miracle, but the ball was tipped away and an Olympiacos party started.
Sunday, May 13, 2012