Spanoulis leads Olympiacos to fifth straight win
Olympiacos BC Piraeus took the battle atop Group C by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 63-77 on the road on Friday. Both teams now have 6-2 records, though Zalgiris remains ahead of the Reds on a tiebreaker, because they won the first game between the two by 18 points. Vassilis Spanoulis paced the winners with 16 points and 6 assists. Kostas Papanikolaou added 13 points and Josh Powell had 10 for the defending champions, who made 14 of 27 three-point shots at Zalgirio Arena. Rimas Kaukenas led Zalgiris with 17 points while Paulius Jankunas added 11 for the hosts. Spanoulis shined early to give Olympiacos a 18-21 edge after 10 minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers by Martynas Gecevicius allowed the Reds to get their biggest lead of the night, 20-31, soon after that. Zalgiris rallied and a running three-pointer by Marko Popovic put the hosts ahead, 50-48, after 30 minutes. Acie Law and Papanikolaou shined early in the fourth quarter, as Olympiacos got a 56-63 margin with under six minutes left and never looked back.
First quarter: Spanoulis shines as Reds take early lead
Vangelis Mantzaris got Olympiacos going with a three-pointer and Josh Powell matched Oliver Lafayette's off-balance shot with a baseline jumper. Powell kept pacing the Reds with free throws, which Rimantas Kaukenas erased with a close jumper. Spanoulis took over with his trademark driving layup and fed Powell for an easy basket that made it 4-11. Georgios Printezis scored in the paint before foul shots by Paulius Jankunas and a corner three-pointer by Tremmell Darden ignited the crowd at 9-13. Kostas Papanikolaou answered from downtown, but Kaukenas followed free throws with a layup to bring the hosts within 13-16 Zalgiris. Spanoulis sank a jumper only to see Darden dunk in transition. Jankunas brought the hosts a bit closer, 16-18. Spanoulis nailed a big triple, but a red-hot Kaukenas nailed a five-meter jumper to keep Zalgiris within 18-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Great defense keeps the Reds ahead
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter until Stratos Perperoglou stepped up with a jump hook. Zalgiris failed to score for more than three minutes while Perperoglou took over with a wild driving basket, good for an 18-25 Olympiacos lead. Jankunas shined with a layup in transition, but Olympiacos kept dominating the game tempo, using long possessions and trying to get Dimitrios Mavroeidis and Pero Antic involved down low. Zalgiris called timeout, but back-to-back corner triples by Martynas Gecevicius made it a double-digit game, 20-31. Zalgiris had been limited to just 2 points in seven minutes, but the Reds were forced to change their defensive strategy once they entered the foul penalty. Kaukenas sank a baseline jumper and free throws by Darden gave Zalgiris some hope. Then Kaukenas buried another long two-pointer to fix the halftime score at 27-31.
Third quarter: Late rally puts Zalgiris ahead
Printezis buried a triple from the right corner immediately after the break and Powell scored down low to restore a 27-36 Olympiacos lead. Jankunas tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a close basket, which Kaukenas followed with a floating layup to make it 31-36. Powell kept pacing the Reds with a reverse layup, which Ibby Jaaber bettered with a three-pointer. Spanoulis fed Papanikolaou for an uncontested slam. Jeff Foote countered at the other end. Foote dunked again off a timeout to make it a 2-point game. Papanikolaou downed a three-pointer and free throws by Spanoulis gave the Reds some fresh air at 38-45. Jaaber beat the shot-clock buzzer with a corner triple and a layup by Jankunas forced Olympiacos to call timeout at 43-45. Spanoulis and Kyle Hines combined for 3 of 4 foul shots, but Marko Popovic and Jankunas brought the hosts as close as 47-48. Popovic brought the crowd to its feet with a running triple that completed the hosts' comeback, 50-48, at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Papanikolaou seals the victory
Acie Law buried a three-pointer from the top of the key early in the fourth quarter and a driving layup by Perperoglou gave Olympiacos a 50-53 edge. Ksistof Lavrinovic took over with a wild dunk that Antic bettered with a catch-and-shoot triple. Darjus Lavrinovic copied his twin brother with a two-handed slam, but Law struck from downtown for a 54-59 score. Darjus Lavrinovic shined with a tip-in. However a technical foul on Popovic allowed Law and Papanikolaou to restore a 56-63 Olympiacos edge with less than six minutes left. Olympiacos started to run the game clock down and Zalgiris could not find the way to the basket, so both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes until Hines split free throws. Spanoulis found Papanikolaou for an easy basket that sealed the outcome, 56-66, as even though Zalgiris kept trying, Olympiacos had already cruised to a well-deserved road win.
Friday, November 30, 2012