Olympiacos racks up 29 assists in crushing Gran Canaria
Olympiacos Piraeus made it six wins out of seven by blasting past Herbalife Gran Canaria, securing a 98-77 home win thanks to an outstanding offensive exhibition featuring a new club record of 29 assists. The Reds never looked troubled after moving clear with a 32-point barrage in the second quarter and improved to 9-5 for a share of fourth place, while Gran Canaria dropped to 5-9. The classic duo of Vassilis Spanoulis (21 points and 8 assists) and Georgios Printezis (16 points) led the way for Olympiacos, while Zach LeDay added 12 points and Nigel Williams-Goss, Janis Strelnieks and Nikola Milutinov all scored 11. Recently signed Siim-Sander Vene paced Gran Canaria with 15 points.
It was low scoring in the early stages before Ondrej Balvin and former Olympiacos forward Kim Tillie each scored twice to send Gran Canaria ahead. But that was the signal for Printezis to take over with four baskets in less than four minutes. A big slam-and-one by LeDay was the highlight of the opening quarter, which finished 20-14 to Olympiacos. A deep three from Markus Eriksson kept Gran Canaria in touch early in the second, but a series of free throws and stiffened defense extended Olympiacos's lead into double digits. Williams-Goss and Printezis both scored from long-range to make it 40-24 before a huge dunk from Milutinov and a triple from Strelnieks added to the advantage, which reached 52-33 at the break after Strelnieks beat the buzzer from long distance. Another pair of baskets from the red-hot Printezis started the second half, but Albert Oliver responded with two scores for Gran Canaria. A pair of three-pointers from Spanoulis maintained the lead and the third quarter finished at 73-54 as Vene and D.J. Strawberry struck from deep. Luke Fischer, Balvin and Vene scored in a 0-8 run to narrow the gap to 80-67 midway through the fourth, but it never got closer than that as Spanoulis led another scoring burst for Olympiacos to seal the deal.
Milutinov turns provider
After claiming the MVP award in Round 13 with a big double-double against Barcelona on Tuesday, on this occasion Nikola Milutinov showed another aspect of his increasingly impressive game by turning provider. The Olympiacos big man set a new career high by dishing 5 assists, meaning he has achieved personal bests in five different statistical categories in the last three days.
Sharing is caring
Milutinov was by no means the only Olympiacos player who shared the ball well, with 10 different players providing at least 1 assist to set a new club record of 29. Fourteen of them came from the backcourt duo of Vassilis Spanoulis (8) and Nigel Williams-Goss (6), and Kostas Papanikolaou registered 3. The excellent ball movement not only set an assists record, but also led to outstanding shooting percentages, with Olympiacos making 26 of 39 two-point attempts (66.7%) and 11 of 23 three-pointers (47.8%).
Radicevic joins list of Gran Canaria absentees
Having cut ties with Christopher Evans in the build-up to the game and still without injured point guard Clevin Hannah, Gran Canaria suffered a further depletion of its ranks after just 90 seconds when playmaker Nikola Radicevic was forced off through injury. That led to 40-year-old Albert Oliver playing nearly 27 minutes – by far his highest game time of the season – and although the veteran responded well with 10 points and 5 assists, the loss of Radicevic on top of everyone else was too much to overcome.
Round 15 will see Olympiacos head coach David Blatt lead his team into Turkey to face last-placed Darussafaka Tefken Istanbul next Thursday. Blatt coached Darussafaka to 7DAYS EuroCup glory last season. Gran Canaria reaches the halfway stage of the regular season at home to Zalgiris Kaunas the following night.
Thursday, December 20, 2018