Bizkaia Bilbao running over Olympiacos 76-61
On a night to remember for the lucky fans who witnessed it live, Bizkaia Bilbao Basket handily defeated visiting Olympiacos 76-61 on Friday, leading from tipoff to buzzer in the city's first-ever game in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. An estimated 9,000 fans packed Bilbao Arena for the occasion, and they raised the roof as their team slowly but surely pulled away to a debut victory. After a 5-5 in the first quarter, Bilbao repeatedly pulled ahead by double-digits, calmly withstanding a couple runs that Olympiacos used to draw within 2 points before and after halftime. Marco Banic led the winners with 22 points on near-perfect shooting: 7 for 9 on two-pointers and 8 for 8 from the foul line. D'or Fischer followed him with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while Aaron Jackson had 11 points, 5 assists. Fischer and Alex Mumbru, with 7 rebounds, led Bilbao's 36-23 advantage on the boards. Olympiacos couldn't overcome that difference nor its 3-for-17 three-point shooting at the hands of Bilbao's defense. Martynas Gecevicius led the winners with 15 points and Kyle Hines came off the bench to score 14. Vassilis Spanoulis added 9 points in a reserve role, but no other Olympiacos player had more than 5 and none pulled more than 4 rebounds.
Spectacular defense dominated the early going, with Fischer ripping rebounds and registering a huge block on Pero Antic that lifted the 9,000 fansout of their seats. More than 3 minutes went by before Banic finished a fastbreak and Jackson turned around his defender for a layup. It took a broken play for Antic to put Olympiacos on the board, but as soon as he did, Gecevicius hit his own layup and free throw to suddenly tie 5-5. Jackson drilled the game's first three-point shot, which Gecevicius answered with a two-pointer at 8-7. Roger Grimau came off the bench to add a triple to and Jackson free throws to the lead, 13-7, while Bilbao kept dominating the boards, giving Olympiacos one shot only. Gecevicius made the next one, however, then stole and found Georgios Printezis for a layup. But Bilbao finished strong, with a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Mumbru to lead 18-11 after 10 minutes.
Tomas Hempl joined the Bilbao's scorers to start the second quarter. But Prtinezis answered him with a jump hook before Hines appeared with back-to-back baskets. The Reds kept rolling as Spanoulis, another late entry in the game, dropped a lane jumper to make it 22-19. After some turnovers back and forth, Banic broke a dry spell for Bilbao from the foul line. Jackson returned with a good feed to Grimau. The Olympiacos scoring troubles continued until Dimitrios Katsivelis beat the shot clock and Hines added an inside basket. But by the time Jackson canned a jumper, Bilbao was pulling away, 31-23. Olympiacos needed a boost, and Spanoulis obliged from long range, however, Kostas Vasiliadis copied him and soon added a free throw for a 35-28 lead. Olympaicos used a free throw by Lazaros Papadopoulus and a basket by Gecevicius to close the gap, but Raul Lopez fed Banic to end another quarter strong, with Bilbao leading 37-31 at halftime.
Evangelos Mantzaris got Olympiacos going after halftime, and soon Spanoulis had the Reds within 41-39 before Fischer downed a baseline jumper for Bilbao. Antic and Fischer exchanged free throws, then Janis Blums rifled in a three-pointer that had the crowd feeling good again. When Jackson fed Banic with a wrap-around pass, repeated on the next possession by Mumbru to Banic, the lead had hit 50-39 and the Reds needed a timeout. It had little effect, however, as Banic was allowed to put back a Bilbao miss and get to the free throw line to make it 54-39. Olympiacos, meanwhile, kept struggling on its shots, missing 10 of 11 three-pointers until then. Free throws from Spanoulis were bettered by Roger Grimau landing a jumper at 56-41. Spanoulis fed Hines for a dunk, then Hines outdid himself with a fastbreak layup to make it 56-47, forcing a timeout by Bilbao. Olympiacos lost the momentum when Printezis was called for a foul and a technical, letting Banic make 4 consecutive free throws. Another buzzer-beater ended the quarter, with Katsevilis hitting a long two-pointer, but Bilbao retained control at 60-49.
Dueling triples by Lopez and Gecevicius opened the final quarter before Banic upped the Bilbao advantage to 65-52 with an inside basket that gave him 20 points. Gecevicius wasn't far behind, however, and buried another triple from the corner to lower the difference to 65-55. Josh Fisher drove for Bilbao's next basket, while Matt Howard got in the Olympiacos scoring column with free throws before a Fisher to Fischer alley-oop dunk brought down the house. When Mumbru then made a block that Jackson finished with a fastbreak layup, the lead was 71-57. Time was wasting on Olympiacos as Bilbao kept adding to its rebound advantage. Hines pushed back with a reverse layup that cut the difference to 71-61, but by the time Fischer hit 2 of 2 free throws for Bilbao, only 2:15 was left. His team was in control and had been for a while, allowing its 9,000 fans to stand as one and savor the first Euroleague victory ever in Bilbao.
Friday, October 21, 2011