Despite missing last week's MVP, Tau Ceramica improved to 2-1 in the Group C by beating Olympiacos, 92-77, in Vitoria on Thursday. Tau is now tied with Efes Pilsen behind undefeated co-leaders Pamesa Valencia and Idea Slask Wroclaw. Olympiacos fell to 0-3, tied for last place with Alba Berlin. The Reds actually stayed in the game until a killer 16-1 run by Tau over the final 4 minutes made it seem otherwise. Tau did what it had to without small forward Andres Nocioni, who had the flu, but the hosts were led by Jose Manuel Calderon and Arvydas Macijauskas, with 19 points apiece. Kornel David had 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for the winners, while Sergi Vidal chipped in 11. Ruben Wokowysky, who returned to Vitoria, where he played last year, led Olympiacos with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Milan Tomic and Christos Harissis had 14 points apiece while Dalibor Bagaric scored 10.
The game started the wrong way for the locals, as they missed Nocioni in the early minutes. They struggled in the offensive end and Olympiacos managed to get the defensive rebound and run the break for easy layups. Tomic and Harissis led their team while Tau could not find Macijauskas. Olympiacos reached the end of the first quarter ahead by 8 points, 21-29.
Things did not change for the hosts in the second quarter, as Wolkowysky dominated Tau's centers at both ends of the court. Olympiacos's lead reached double digits, 23-33, early in the second quarter, but they made a mistake in not protecting that advantage against a team known for its ability to put together long defensive stands and scoring runs. Now, Tiago Splitter started powering Tau on the boards, while Macijauskas and Calderon loosened their shooting hands. Together, they managed to help Tau come all the way back to within 41-43 at the half.
The momentum was on Tau's side after halftime, and combined with the advantages of the homecourt and the crowd, things started going the way of the Spaniards. Tau used an 11-2 run midway through the third quarter to make it a seven-point game, 59-52, as Olympiacos' big men went into early foul trouble, and the Reds wasted several free throws. Olympiacos would finish the game having made just 18-for-33 from the foul line, more than a few of which they would like to have back considering the outcome. With the help of those misses, Tau managed to keep a lead of 67-61 after 30 minutes.
Olympiacos had a strong start of the fourth quarter, with a 2-9 run, as a three-pointer by Harisis and a dunk by Bagaric gave the Reds back the lead, 69-70. Tomic and David exchanged baskets, and then Bagaric added two free-throws for a 71-74 Olympiacos lead. David made a jumper and Calderon added a 3-pointer to give the lead back to the hosts, 76-74. Bagaric added two more free throws before fouling out, Goran Jurak also picked up his fifth foul, and with those two out of the picture, Tau took over until the end of the game. Olympiacos would manage to score only 1 point in the final 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Tau scored 16, including 5 each by Calderon and David, to seal the outcome. The hosts had learned that they can also win without their bigger star this season.
Thursday, November 20, 2003