Eriksson fires ALBA to victory in Piraeus
ALBA Berlin held on for a hard-fought road win at Olympiacos Piraeus, 86-93, to give newly reappointed home team coach Georgios Bartzokas an unhappy return to Peace and Friendship Stadium. ALBA led by double figures before halftime after a blitz of three-point shooting, but Olympiacos battled back and would have tied the game inside the final minute if Nikola Milutinov had made free throws. Marcus Eriksson led ALBA with 22 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting and Martin Hermansson paired 18 points with 6 assists. Rokas Giedraitis scored 15 points, Peyton Siva added 12 and Luka Sikma 11. Georgios Printezis had 15 points and 9 rebounds for Olympiacos, while Vassilis Spanoulis led the offense with 14 points and 9 assists. Milutinov added 15 points and Antonios Koniaris scored 11. ALBA improved to 6-13, one game behind Olympiacos at 7-12.
Printezis scored three times inside in the opening minutes to send Olympiacos ahead 8-4. The lead was extended as Spanoulis and Milutinov penetrated to score. Giedraitis pulled ALBA closer from long-range, but Wade Baldwin IV scored twice to protect the home team’s lead. Siva came off the bench to spark ALBA with a pair of baskets and Eriksson’s deep strike helped make it 22-19 after 10 minutes. Downtown daggers from Siva, Eriksson and Kenneth Ogbe sent the visitors ahead at the start of the second and Sikma also netted twice before Hermansson’s three-point play made it 28-35. ALBA’s three-point bombs continued to drop as Eriksson and Giedraitis extended the lead to double digits, but Koniaris answered by finally scoring Olympiacos’s first triple. Hermansson was also accurate from long-range before a three-point play by Augustine Rubit and baskets from Spanoulis were answered by Landry Nnoko and Johannes Thiemann inside, fixing the halftime score at 42-50.
Eriksson scored his fourth and fifth triples to get ALBA moving in the second half, but a pair of close-range scores from Milutinov gave Olympiacos life and a deep strike from Kostas Papanikolaou made it 58-60. Giedraitis delivered a showtime slam, but Spanoulis penetrated to score and free throws from Milutinov tied the game before Sasha Vezenkov beat the third-quarter buzzer from deep for a 71-68 lead. Eriksson soon restored ALBA’s lead with his latest triple and runners from Hermansson and Eriksson made it 71-77. Giedraitis from deep and Sikma from close range extended the margin, but another Koniaris triple – his third – kept the home team hoping. Papanikolaou and Printezis pulled the Reds within back to 85-87 in the final minute, but Milutinov couldn’t tie it from the foul line as he split his free throws. Olympiacos got the offensive rebound, but Spanoulis missed from long range and ALBA iced the game with free throws.
Fourth quarter run seals the deal
Olympiacos ended the third quarter on a high with a triple from Sasha Vezenkov making the score 71-68. But ALBA started the final quarter with a 2-14 run featuring triples from Marcus Eriksson and Rokas Giedraitis and that proved to be crucial as the hosts never led again.
Long-range shooting contrast
There was a contrasting offensive approach from the two teams: ALBA struck 13 of 23 shots from beyond the arc, including 9 of 14 in the first half, whereas Olympiacos didn’t make any three-pointers until the latter stages of the second quarter and ended up shooting just 5 of 18 long-range attempts.
Olympiacos excels in the paint
Despite its poor outside shooting, Olympiacos was able to make the contest close because of its highly accurate inside game. The hosts were good on 19 of 22 two-point shots in the first half and ended up making 29 of 39, with key men Georgios Printezis, Vassilis Spanoulis and Nikola Milutinov converting a combined 17 of 20 two-pointers.
Olympiacos stays in Piraeus for a Round 20 meeting with another German team, FC Bayern Munich, on Friday. ALBA travels to Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on the same night.
Tuesday, January 14, 2020