Sloukas's last-second heroics lift Reds over Fenerbahce
Olympiacos Piraeus completed a perfect week in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague by beating Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 67-65 at Peace and Friendship Stadium on Thursday night. Kostas Sloukas was the hero for the Reds, as he rescued his team when it trailed 59-62 with 8 points in a row, including the game-winning jumper with 2 seconds to go. Despite amassing a 13-point advantage in the second half, Olympiacos had to wait till the last possession to seal the win, as Fenerbahce recorded a 0-16 run bridging the third and the fourth quarter that brought the game to the line. The home team, which improved to 5-2 and remained perfect at home, had four scorers in double-digits led by Sloukas with 14. Tyler Dorsey, Giannoulis Larentzakis and Moustapha Fall each netted 10 points. Jan Vesely paced Fenerbahce with 14 points and 9 rebounds, while Nando De Colo and Marko Guridic posted 10 apiece in the losing effort. Fenerbahce fell to 2-4 after collecting its third defeat in a row.
The hosts started at full throttle, getting an early 5-0 lead behind buckets by Sasha Vezenkov and Dorsey in the first minute. Guduric soon answered from downtown, as Pierria Henry converted an offensive rebound to tie it, but the scoring pace slowed down drastically on both ends from then on. Kostas Papanikolau and Devin Booker traded baskets to keep the balance at 7-7 after 7 minutes. Fall provided a couple of strong dunks, and Dorsey and Papanikolau showed up from deep to build a 17-12 lead for the hosts. After Dorsey scored a layup, De Colo buried his third consecutive bucket to close the first quarter with the Reds leading 19-14.
Vezenkov and Fall extended the margin to 23-14 early in the second, but Fenerbahce resisted. The guests used Ahmet Duverioglu and Vesely on the court at the same time for a while, which helped Fenerbahce change the trend. Mahmutoglu took over then and drained back-to-back triples that made it all-square again, 27-27, after 16 minutes. The hosts found a timely answer from Sloukas, who connected twice from behind the arc and provided two assists on a 13-0 run that built a 40-27 advantage. Larentzakis added another three soon after, but Vesely stepped up to help Fenerbahce avoid a bigger disadvantage, 45-34, at halftime.
Back-to-back triples by Vezenkov and Walkup dug it deeper for Olympiacos, 53-40, when the game resumed. The visitors tried, but couldn’t find anybody able to overcome the Reds’ defensive machinery, scoring at a 1-point-per-minute rate. As such, the Reds had no trouble keeping a double-digit lead, 55-42. However, Vesely came to the rescue again, starting a 0-9 run in which Achille Polonara provided a triple and Henry an acrobatic layup to bring the visitors within 55-51. Olympiacos's urgent timeout didn’t stop the rally, as Hazer went to the line right after that to close the third quarter at 55-53.
Both teams struggled on offense early in the final stanza until Guduric showed up from downtown to complete the comeback and put Fenerbahce in front, 55-56, with 8 minutes remaining. Vesely scored inside to extend the run to 0-16 and made it 55-58. The Reds ended the drought with a couple of free throws by McKissic, which Larentzakis replicated to keep Olympiacos sewed to the game, 59-60, midway through the fourth. Vesely kept hurting the hosts in the paint, but Sloukas drew a foul that turned into a three-point play to tie it at 62-62. A new game was born, as both squads remained scoreless for almost 3 minutes. Sloukas broke the trend with his third triple entering crunch time, but Polonara finished a fastbreak with a basket-plus-foul to erase the difference and make it 65-65 with only 39 seconds to go. Henry forced an Olympiacos turnover, but missed the jumper on the resulting possession, giving Olympiacos a chance with the last ball. Sloukas took the reins again to nail the game-winning jumper with 2 seconds to go, as Guduric couldn’t convert his desperation three-point attempt for the visitors.
Sloukas punishes his former team
Kostas Sloukas spent five seasons playing for Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul from 2015 to 2020. In that period, the Greek guard won the EuroLeague in 2017 and was named to the 2018-2019 All-EuroLeague First Team. Despite such good memories, Sloukas was merciless against his former team, as he became the go-to guy and the man responsible for Olympiacos’s thrilling win. Not only did he score the game-winning basket with just 2 seconds to go, but he showed up to pull his team out from the scoring blackout it experienced in the last quarter. Sloukas was the only Olympiacos player to score in the last 5 minutes of the game, providing a three-point play to tie the game at 62-62, then a triple to make it 65-62 with 1:39 remaining, plus the winning dagger close to the buzzer.
Three years later, Olympiacos wins again
Olympiacos’s last win against Fenerbahce came in the 2017-2018 season, when it routed the Turkish powerhouse 95-70 on February 1, 2018, behind 19 points by Spanoulis and Strelnieks. Since then, the Reds have been defeated five times in as many games, regardless of the court in which the game was played. For three full Euroleague seasons, Fenerbahce enjoyed the sweetness of victory against Olympiacos. It won 72-73 in Greece and 90-75 in Istanbul in 2018-2019. The next season, which had to be interrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw Fenerbahce rout the Reds on the road, 87-96. And last season, the Turkish powerhouse celebrated an 84-77 triumph at home and 71-76 in Greece.
Fenerbahce’s rally come sup short
For the third time in the last three games, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul fell short by a single basket. After losing 70-69 against Real in Madrid in Round 5, it got another painful defeat against FC Barcelona, 74-76, earlier this week. Fenerbahce wasn’t any luckier against Olympiacos, either, but showed a great reaction when the Reds seemed to be in full control of the game midway through the third quarter. A terrific 0-16 run, which held the home team scoreless for more than 6 minutes, allowed Fenerbahce to turn the game upside down and grab a 59-62 lead with 5 minutes to play. Unfortunately for the visitors, Achille Polonara was the only one to score in that span, which proved too little in the end to escape from Greece with the win.
Thursday, October 28, 2021