Olympiacos repeats as Euroleague champion!
For the second year in a row, Olympiacos Piraeus roared back from a double-digit deficit to become the Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion. The Reds bested Real Madrid 100-88 at The O2 in London after trailing by 17 at the end of the opening quarter and in doing so became just the fourth team to win back-to-back Euroleague titles in the Final Four era. In something that has become characteristic of the Reds, they got tremendous contributions from their second unit, led by Kyle Hines and Pero Antic, to climb back. Then Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis heated up in the third quarter and Olympiacos dominated the final 10 minutes as thousands of red-clad fans sang and clapped the night away. Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis led the charge with 21 points – all in the second half! – as six Olympiacos players scored in double figures. Acie Law collected 20 points and dished 5 assists, Hines added 12 points, Kostas Sloukas 11 and Stratos Perperoglou and Antic scored 10 apiece. The title is the third continental crown in Olympiacos’s illustrious history. Before beating CSKA Moscow last season in Istanbul, it defeated FC Barcelona in the 1997 title game in Rome. Rudy Fernandez led Madrid with 21 points, Sergio Rodriguez scored 17 and Sergio Llull finished with 14. Madrid lost its first final since it defeated the Reds in the 1995 Euroleague final in Zaragoza, Spain, but remains European basketball’s winningest team with eight Euroleague titles.
First quarter: Madrid wows crowd with explosive start
Georgios Printezis opened the 2013 title game in the similar way he finished the one a year ago, with a baseline floater. However, Olympiacos did not generate much more offense in the early goings, as Madrid only allowed a Josh Powell jumper in a span of almost four minutes. Meanwhile, Madrid opened its account with back-to-back triples from Fernandez and Nikola Mirotic, before a layup by Mirza Begic after a behind-the-back pass from Fernandez put Los Blancos up 4-8. With Begic setting the defensive tone with 2 blocks in less than five minutes, Sergio Llull hit another triple and Mirotic finished a fastbreak with a layup for 5-13. After a timeout, a big dunk from Kostas Papanikolaou ended the Olympiacos drought, but a layup from Begic and a triple from Fernandez made it 7-20. Hines answered with a basket-plus-foul on the other end, but Llull countered with Madrid’s fifth triple of the quarter, and then added a driving layup high off the glass, before Fernandez’s fastbreak layup rounded out the first quarter scoring, making it 10-27 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Reds roar back behind aggressive second unit
Pero Antic started the scoring in the second quarter with a triple – the first for Olympiacos. Hines followed it up, muscling his way for a basket inside, before Perperoglou sank another shot from downtown to make it 18-27. After a timeout, Fernandez scored a pair of free throws to score the first points of the quarter for Madrid, but Perperoglou nailed a long jumper and Antic made a big two-handed slam cutting it to 22-29. As Olympiacos raised its defensive effort, Madrid was six minutes without a field goal before Reyes laid it in from close range. Madrid followed that up with a beautiful Fernandez-to-Reyes-to-Slaughter alley-oop, but Antic scored a layup after a big offensive rebound from Giorgi Shermadini for 28-33. After another timeout by Real Madrid, Rodriguez made a driving layup, but Law nailed a triple and made a fastbreak layup to help the Reds come within 34-37. In the final minute of the quarter, a pair of free throws from Rodriguez and a basket inside from Slaughter looked to give Madrid more breathing room, but Kostas Sloukas was fouled shooting a triple 0.8 seconds before the halftime, and with his 3 free throws made it 37-41 at the break.
Third quarter: All the makings of an instant classic
Law and Begic traded layups to kick off the third quarter, before Spanoulis nailed back-to-back triples – his first points of the game – to put the Reds in front 45-43. Mirotic answered with a shot off the glass, but Spanoulis continued his shine with his third triple on as many trips down the floor. Then, it was time for Hines to shine, scoring a put-back on one end before making a spectacular block on a Mirotic fastbreak layup on the other. Law grabbed the loose ball and raced for a layup and a 52-46 edge. After a timeout, Madrid found some of its offensive rhythm and went inside to Slaughter, who made a tough basket, but it was Fernandez back in the main role, getting a roll on a baseline floater and sinking a triple to put his team back in the lead, 55-56. Before the quarter’s end, Hines delivered 2 blocks on Fernandez, and made a layup for the Reds, but 2 free throws from Rodriguez made the score 61-61 going into the final 10 minutes.
Fourth quarter: The champs pull away and party
A tough turnaround jumper from Perperoglou opened the quarter. After Law made 4 free throws, Spanoulis hit a three-pointer to make it 70-62, making the Olympiacos faithful go wild. Madrid found an answer in Jaycee Carroll who hit a three, but Perperoglou replied right back with a triple and Sloukas added a jumper. Shermadini’s basket-plus-foul and a pair of free throws from Spanoulis gave the Reds their first double-digit lead of the game, 80-70 with exactly five minutes to go. A layup from Antic before a timeout, and a fastbreak dunk from Papanikolaou after it, extended the margin to 14. Rodriguez made a jumper, only Madrid’s second field goal of the quarter, but a layup from Printezis kept Olympiacos’s lead safe, 87-73. As the Reds started to run out the clock, Rodriguez made 4 from the foul line and hit a baseline jumper to keep Madrid’s hopes alive, but Spanoulis sank a three-pointer from way downtown for 90-79, essentially sealing the deal. Before game’s end, players from both teams went on several trips to the free throw line, as Sloukas, Spanoulis and Antic combined to go 5 of 6 to keep the Olympiacos lead safe.
Sunday, May 12, 2013