McKissic powers Olympiacos in Greek derby
Olympiacos Piraeus gained local bragging rights by edging out eternal rival Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 81-78 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium. Predictably, the game was closely contested with neither team leading by more than 8 points at any stage. Olympiacos led throughout the third quarter before Panathinaikos fought back to force several ties in the fourth. But Olympiacos finished stronger to earn a nervous victory as DeShaun Thomas missed a chance to force overtime on the final play. Shaq McKissic paced the host on his home debut, scoring 22 points including several spectacular dunks, while Kostas Papanikoalou scored 8 of his 12 points in the final quarter. Taylor Rochestie added 11 points, Sasha Vezenkov scored 10, and Octavius Ellis grabbed 10 rebounds. Nick Calathes led Panathinaikos with 18 points, with Tyrese Rice (12), Dinos Mitoglou (11), Ioannis Papapetrou (10) and Georgios Papagiannis (10) also getting in double figures. Panathinaikos stayed in sixth place at 14-13, while Olympiacos improved to 12-15.
McKissic shined in the early going, throwing down a fastbreak slam and adding a three-pointer, before Wade Baldwin IV and Ellis combined for an alley-oop and a 12-4 lead. But Panathinaikos came back with a 0-8 run to tie as Calathes twice penetrated to score. McKissic restored the home team’s lead, but Papapetrou drove for a layup and kept it close. A three-point play by Ben Bentil and a buzzer-beating reverse layup from Rice made it 18-20 after 10 minutes and Rice’s no-look dime to Mitoglou helped the visitors move further ahead, but a pair of Vezenkov triples and a dunk from Brandon Paul pulled Olympiacos back to 26-26. Vezenkov capped a 7-0 run before Mitoglou’s three-point play and a Thomas layup restored Panathinaikos’s lead. Threes from Rochestie and McKissic sent the hosts ahead and the latter drove to score again to make it 45-39 at the interval.
Georgios Printezis, McKissic and Ellis scored inside to keep Olympiacos ahead early in the third, but Calathes netted twice at the other end, including a three-point play, to boost Panathinaikos. McKissic delivered a steal and slam, but Calathes kept pacing the visitors and Mitoglou scored inside to make it 58-55. McKissic dunked again and Rochestie made a deep three, but Mitoglou and Bentil netted from close range to bring their team within 65-59 with one quarter remaining. Bentil’s free throws and a pair of Papagiannis close-range scores tied it at 65-65 as Olympiacos was held nearly 4 minutes without scoring until Vezenkov’s powerful layup. Rice scored inside, making it 67-67 with 5 minutes left. Papanikolaou banked in a triple, but Calathes finally knocked down his team’s first and only three-pointer for another tie. Papanikolaou’s three-point play gave the Reds another lead and McKissic dunked again before Rochestie’s deep two made it 77-74 entering the last minute. Rice’s free throws were followed by a driving layup from McKissic for a 79-76 lead. Then Rice missed a floater and Papanikolaou split free throws for 80-76. Papagiannis made it 80-78 from the foul line with 9 seconds left. Papanikolaou split free throws again and Panathinaikos had one play to force overtime but Thomas missed from deep.
Long-range shooting misery for Panathinaikos
Three-point shooting made a massive contribution to the outcome, and Panathinaikos only made one three-pointer all night. That came from Nick Calathes midway through the fourth quarter. The Greens finished 1-of-20 from downtown, only the fourth time Panathinaikos has made just one triple and the worst long-range shooting percentage in the club’s history.
Olympiacos does enough from deep
In contrast, Olympiacos enjoyed plenty of success from beyond the arc. The Reds converted 9 of their 21 three-point attempts (42.9%), including 3-of-3 from Taylor Rochestie and 2-of-3 from Sasha Vezenkov.
Papanikolaou shines in crunch time
Shaq McKissic was undoubtedly the star man as he marked his home debut for Olympiacos with 22 points, but Kostas Papanikolaou played a big role in the closing stages. The veteran forward scored 8 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, dished 1 assist and drew 4 fouls in the final 6 minutes to drag his team over the finish line.
Olympiacos overcomes ball-handling problems
Considering the intense rivalry and the high stakes, it’s no surprise this was a nervous and scrappy game at times and Olympiacos grabbed the win despite committing 17 turnovers while only dishing 12 assists. Panathinaikos had 14 assists and 13 turnovers.
Panathinaikos returns to action on Thursday evening with a home meeting against reigning champion CSKA Moscow, while Olympiacos travels to table-topping Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday.
Tuesday, March 3, 2020