Spanoulis shines late to lead undefeated Reds into Top 16
Reigning Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis made 4 fourth-quarter three-pointers – including three in a row in a 0-13 run – as Olympiacos Piraeus came back from 11 down to beat Unicaja Malaga 74-82 at Martin Carpena Arena and in the process clinched a Top 16 berth. Spanoulis was at his best late in leading the Reds to their ninth consecutive victory dating back to last season. He finished with 21 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting plus 4 assists – the second of which put him in fifth place on the Euroleague’s career assists list. He passed former CSKA Moscow great J.R. Holden for that honor. Matt Lojeski added 19 points, while Brant Dunston scored 13 and blocked 3 shots for the victors. Unicaja dropped to 2-4 and is now tied for fourth place with Stelmet Zielona Gora in Group C. Nik Caner-Medley and Rafa Hettsheimeir each scored 11 for the home team and Carlos Suarez and Earl Calloway had 10 apiece. The hosts’ hounding press put Unicaja in control for much of the game, but the Reds held Unicaja scoreless for six minutes in the fourth quarter and marched to victory.
First quarter: Spanoulis sparkles for Reds, Calloway lifts Unicaja
The champs fed hero Georgios Printezis inside for the game’s first basket; Fran Vazquez quickly got the hosts on the scoreboard with a tip-in. Vazquez and Jayson Granger provided the early offense for Unicaja, while Spanoulis did the same for the Reds with an assist to Bryant Dunston and a drive of his own. Spanoulis’s next assist – to Printezis – also gave him fifth place on the Euroleague’s career assists charts. Stratos Perperoglou added a basket-plus-foul in transition before Spanoulis found Dunston to make it 8-13. Nik Caner-Medley and Vazquez quickly closed the gap to 1. Dunston provided a highlight with an offensive rebound and slam. Rafa Hettsheimeir split free throws before Mindaugas Kuzminskas tied the game at 17-17. Kostas Sloukas countered with a three to restore an Olympiacos lead. However Eral Calloway scored twice – once on a penetration and a second time after a steal –to put Unicaja ahead. Caner-Medley free throws made it 23-20 at the end of the quarter.
Second quarter: Suarez ignites hosts’ hounding press
Acie Law marked his impact on the game with a steal and layup and then a dish to Lojeski for a three-pointer and a 23-25 Olympiacos lead. It was soon tied after Hettsheimeir’s three-point play. Lojeski remained hot with a second triple. Zoran Dragic quickly scored at the other end. Highlights at both end as Calloway lofted an alley-oop pass to Mindaugas who finished in style and Lojeski blew by a defender for a serious slam. Dragic attacked the rim to make it 33-32. Then Calloway scored before leading a break and passing back to Domantas Sabonis for a slam and a 5-point lead. Lojeski took a pass from Spanoulis for a layup. Turnovers plagued Olympiacos and Caner-Medley took advantage to score, but Vangelos Mantzaris came up with a steal and layup for the Reds. Suarez padded the hosts’ lead from the line after a technical foul was called on Olympiacos coach Georgios Bartzokas. Unicaja’s hounding press led to a Suarez steal and layup. Suarez then split free throws to make it a 10-point game. Spanoulis wormed his way inside and drew a foul, which allowed him to bring the Reds within 46-38. Perperoglou added a three to trim the deficit to 46-41 at the break.
Third quarter: Lojeski helps lead Reds back from 11-point deficit
Unicaja opened the second half with another basket off an Olympiacos turnover before Caner-Medley connected from behind the arc to give his team a double-digit lead. Dunston set Printezis up for a slam – the Reds’ first points of the quarter. Suarez beat the shot clock from downtown to give Unicaja its biggest lead yet, 54-43. Printezis and Hettsheimeir traded baskets. Dunston split free throws and Lojeski buried a long jumper as Olympiacos continued to fight. Lojeski’s third three of the game made it 58-51. Spanoulis closed the gap to 4 with a basket-plus-foul. Calloway and Lojeski swapped free throws. Brent Petway nailed a three from the top of the key as the deficit shrunk to a single point. Kuzminskas took a ball that practically fell into his hands and scored. Calloway sank a three to keep the hosts ahead and after Perperoglou scored 2 from the line, Kuzminskas made 1 of 3 free throws to leave Unicaja with a 65-62 lead.
Fourth quarter: Spanoulis time!
Sabonis scored the only basket in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. Spanoulis stepped up with a big three. Then he nailed another – from deep – to put the Reds ahead for the first time in the second half. A third straight Spanoulis triple left the arena silenced and Olympiacos ahead 67-71 at the midway point in the quarter. Dunston dunked just before the 24-second clock sounded. Another Dunston basket capped a run of 13 unanswered Olympiacos points. By the time Granger sank a floater, Unicaja had been held scoreless for six minutes. And chance of a late Unicaja comeback was squashed by another Spanoulis triple for a 69-78 advantage. Hettsheimeir made it a 6-point game with two minutes to go, but the hosts did not score for another 90 seconds as Olympiacos cruised to another victory.
Friday, November 22, 2013