Olympiacos registered its first win in Group F By edging Zalgiris 86-84 in overtime at the Peace and Friendship Arena in Piraeus, Greece, on Wednesday night. Both teams now have a 1-2 record and could tie for second place if Real Madrid beats Maccabi Elite in another Group F clash on Thursday. Lynn Greer led the winners with 22 points. Marc Jackson posted a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds while Qyntel Woods had 18 points, including the game-winning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining. DeJuan Collins led Zalgiris with 19 points. Marcus Brown added 16, Mamadou N’Ddiaye and Marko Popovic each had 14 and Jonas Maciulis got 12 for the guests, who trailed 39-38 at halftime. Brown led a 2-14 run that gave Zalgiris its biggest lead, 41-52, but Greer led a 14-4 run that brought Olympiacos within 55-56 after 30 minutes. Damir Markota buried a triple for a 69-72 edge with a minute to go but Greer answered from downtown to tie it at 72-72. Olympiacos used several non-shooting fouls to kill time and Markota missed the potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation. Once in the extra period, a triple by Popovic brought Zalgiris within 84-82 with 38 seconds remaining. Greer picked up an offensive foul, but Collins made 2 of 4 foul shots, the last with 12.5 seconds to go, to tie it once more at84-84. Woods drew a foul and made the game-winning free throws and Popovic missed a running triple at the buzzer.
Giorgos Printezis scored on the offensive boards to get Olympiacos started at 2-0. But, Zalgiris moved the ball well on offense to create some good open opportunities from the perimeter that resulted in three straight three-pointers from Maciulis, Collins and Brown for a 6-11 lead. Woods stepped up for the hosts to score 5 points of his own and contribute with a couple of good rebounds and a nice assist to Jackson as the Reds went on an impressive 10-0 run to sail infront 16-11 within two minutes. Markota scored and Collins completed a basket-plus-free-throw to tie it at 16-16. Rod Blakney connected to return the lead to Olympiacos, but after that it was all Zalgiris. Popovic nailed a triple and N’Diaye chipped 2 from the line to allow Zalgiris retake the lead at 18-22. Greer saved the first quarter’s last word to trim it to 20-22, but it remained obvious that the visitors were the team to control the game tempo.
Brown and Popovic scored from the backcourt for a good 20-26 Zalgiris lead to begin the second period. Olympiacos was not only having trouble defending, especially in the perimeter, but also setting up its offense was a big concern. After three minutes of scoring silence, the hosts connected as Jackson found a basket-plus-foul. N’Diaye and Collins led Zalgiris to 23-30, but soon Jackson from inside and Greer from outside reacted for the Reds to bring them closer. Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis was trying with continuous changes to find the suitable lineup, as 10 different Olympiacos players had already seen at least four minutes of playing time. Zalgiris remained in charge at 30-34 before Blakney nailed a three-pointer to bring the hosts as close as 35-36. Later consecutive baskets by Jake Tsakalidis put the hosts on top 39-36 to complete a 7-0 spurt. Collins found points from the charity stripe to make it 39-38 at halftime.
Zalgiris kept its rhythm from the three-point-line after halftime, too, as Maciulis and Brown connected for a quick 39-44 advantage. But, Zalgiris was not done yet: A layup by N’Diaye and another triple by Brown increased the run to 0-11 and gave the Lithuanian champs their first double-digit lead. Olympiacos was still scoreless, almost five minutes into the third quarter, until Jackson cut it to 41-49. Brown was there again for Zalgiris, but Jackson, Milos Teodosic, Greer and Woods were now Olympiacos’s offensive weapons as the hosts cut the margin to 52-54 as their defense had improved. Both teams found some points from the charity stripe for a 55-56 Zalgiris lead after 30 minutes.
Woods scored to bring Olympiacos the lead for the first time since halftime, however, three-pointers proved to be the solution for Zalgiris once again. One from Popovic and two from Maciulis allowed the guests to build a crucial 59-65 difference. N’Diaye increased it to 59-67 before Panagiotis Vassilopoulos nailed his own triple to offer some hope to Olympiacos at 62-67 with four minutes still to go. Popovic and Greer exchanged baskets before Vassilopoulos again fired in a three and cut the lead to 2, causing the crowd to believe in an Olympiacos comeback. Then Greer tied the game at 69 points to complete a key 7-0 Reds’ streak. Zalgiris was searching for offensive opportunities and the solution came again from behind the arc as Markota bombed in a big triple at the shot-clock buzzer. But Greer was there to answer back for Olympiacos in the same way: A huge triple and a 72-72 tie. Zalgiris had the last possession with 17 seconds remaining, but having fouls to give, Olympiacos played some smart and good defense, forcing Markota to a tough three-point attempt that missed as the game went to overtime.
Vassilopoulos completed a three-point play on a basket-plus-foul combination for a 75-72 Olympiacos edge. Free throws by both teams resulted to 79-75 in favor of the hosts, before N’Diaye brought Zalgiris as close as 79-77 with an inside basket. Greer found points from the line again, but N’Diaye was unstoppable in the paint to trim it again to 82-79. Jackson sent in a couple of free throws as Olympiacos was now finding points only from the charity stripe. Popovic stepped up for a big triple to cut the difference to 84-82 going into the overtime period’s last minute. Olympiacos suffered consecutive turnovers and Collins had the opportunity to bring Zalgiris infront, but nailed only 2 of 4 free throws to tie it at 84-84 with 12 seconds remaining. Woods drew the foul from Maciulis and was accurate from the line for 86-84 less than 6 seconds till the final buzzer to seal Olympiacos’s win as Popovic’s triple to give Zalgiris the win did not find the target.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008