Olympiakos took revenge for its only loss of the season by shutting down Real Madrid after halftime Wednesday night and cruising to an unexpectedly easy 91-84 Euroleague victory at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, Greece.
After losing by two points in Madrid in Euroleague's inaugural game, the Piraeus Reds have won all 10 games they played at home and away, both in Euroleague and the Greek League.
Stephane Risacher was the man of the game. The French forward scored a game-high 21 points, but 7 in the most crucial moments of the game, when the killer instict of Aleksandar Djordjevic and the "fast forward" moves of Raul Lopez threatened a Real Madrid comeback.
"I feel very comfortable playing here and that' s why I can have this kind of performance," said Risacher, who has become his team's best scorer in the Euroleague, with an average of 15.7 points per game.
The rematch looked to be getting as close as the first game when Djordjevic opened the third-quarter by nailing a three-point bomb that cut the Olympiakos lead to 46-43. But that is precisely when Olympiakos got serious and went on an 18-5 run that boosted its lead to 63-48, essentially putting the contest away.
Credit the Olympiakos defense for most of that decisive spurt. In the third quarter alone, that defense forced Real Madrid to commit 8 of its 20 total turnovers, as point guards Djordjevic and young Raul Lopez found it increasingly tough to run plays or penetrate. For awhile it seemed that Madrid couldn't get close to the basket - neither to shoot nor to rebound - without facing a wall of Olympiakos defenders. It says enough that Madrid only made a single two-point shot in the quarter. The rest of its 14 points came on three-pointers and free throws.
The fourth quarter was much of the same, with Madrid using three-pointers by Djordjevic, Lopez and shooting guard Alberto Herreros to get back within 10 points. But for every long-range shot that Madrid made, Olympiakos had an answer. Indeed, the lead reached its zenith, 77-61, on a succession of Olympiakos three-pointers - by point guard Milan Tomic, shooting guard Stephane Risacher and forward Nikolaos Ekonomou - early in the fourth quarter.
Risacher, who had been doubtful for the game due to a leg injury, turned in a near-perfect night. He made all 4 of this two-point shots, 3 of 5 three-pointers and 4 out of 4 free throws, with most of his big baskets coming whenever Madrid started to attempt a comeback.
Meanwhile, Dino Radja and the rest of the Olympiakos frontcourt controlled the inside play, limiting Madrid's big men to just 10 points all night in the paint. Radja, despite early foul trouble, put in another night of hard work, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 13 points. Shooting guard Doussan Vouktsevic added 13 points on several fine drives to the hoop, and point guard David Rivers put up 12 points of his own.
Madrid relied mostly on its outside game, as Djordjevic, Lopez and Herreros accounted for 39 points between them. Even center Jiri Zidek, who sank 2 three-pointers among his 10 points, had to go outside to find enough room to shoot.
Madrid coach Sergio Scariolo was complaining "because we didn' t have the guts we needed during the whole game and we just came back in the last minutes. We had to play more from the perimeter in offense, instead of trying to score mainly from inside."
The victory solidified Olympiakos's position atop the Group C standings with a 5-1 record. The team is on a roll in the Greek League, too, going undefeated in five games so far. Despite being the only team to beat Olympiakos this season, Real Madrid is mired in a three-game Euroleague losing streak.
It's 2-3 record puts Madrid in a precarious position near the fourth, and last, group playoff position. Madrid must visit fifth-place Hapoel Jerusalem on Monday for a make-up game that has turned out to be very important for the chances of the reigning Spanish League champions.
Wednesday, December 6, 2000