Unicaja beats Olympiacos, Spanoulis breaks assists record
In an overtime thriller that went down to the final shot, Unicaja Malaga grabbed its 12th win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season by downing Olympiacos Pireaus 87-85 at home on Friday. Unicaja improved to 12-17 in the standings and pleased its fans in its last home game. Olympiacos dropped to 19-10 on a special night for superstar guard Vassilis Spanoulis, who climbed to the top spot in the EuroLeague's all-time assists board. James Augustine became Unicaja's hero by hitting the game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left in overtime. Nemanja Nedovic led the winners with 17 points. Ray McCallum added 13, Augustine had 12 while Adam Waczynski got 10 for Unicaja. Spanoulis led Olympiacos with 15 points and eight assists to total 1,260 overall, going past previous leader Dimitris Diamantidis (1,255). Vangelis Mantzaris and Ioannis Papapetrou each added 11 while Janis Strelnieks and Nikola Milutinov got 10 apiece for the guests. Spanoulis shined early to give Olympiacos a 6-11 lead but Nedovic stepped up to singlehandedly restore a 14-13 Unicaja edge. Spanoulis got help from Papapetrou and Mantzaris to make Olympiacos regain the lead, 19-22, after 10 minutes. Augustine and Dani Diez stepped up for Unicaja early in the second quarter. They got help from McCallum and Jeff Brooks to give Unicaja a 14-point margin, 47-33, at halftime. Spanoulis, Mantzaris and Jamel McLean fueled a 0-17 run which allowed Olympiacos to take the lead, 54-56, after 30 minutes. Olympiacos led for the best part of the fourth quarter but Nedovic stepped up in crunch time to send the game to overtime, 74-74. Olympiacos led 82-85 in the final minute but Waczynski buried a triple and Augustine added the game-winning shot 2.5 seconds before the final buzzer.
Brooks got Unicaja going with a jumper and a put-back layup but a three-pointer by Spanoulis and a dunk by Milutinov gave Olympiacos a 4-5 lead. Waczynski scored down low but Spanoulis and Brian Roberts fueled a 6-0 run that Papapetrou capped with a layup for a 6-11 Olympiacos edge. Nedovic struck twice from downtown and added a driving layup to make Unicaja regain the lead, 14-13. Kim Tillie, Papapetrou and Spanoulis each had a layup in a 0-6 run. Sasu Salin and Mantzaris - on Spanoulis's 1,256th assist, an all-time record - traded three-pointers and a buzzer-beating jumper by Carlos Suarez fixed the score at 19-22 after 10 minutes. McCallum scored around the basket early in the second quarter, then Salin and Augustine fueled an 8-0 run which Diez capped with a layup for a 29-24 Unicaja lead. Strelnieks hit a triple and McLean added consecutive put-back layups but Diez and Augustine kept pacing Unicaja and a close basket by Viny Okouo made Olympiacos call timeout at 37-31. Brooks dunked, McCallum added a jumper and free throws by Salin made it a double-digit game, 44-33. A wild three-pointer by McCallum fixed the halftime score at 47-33. Augustine dunked again after the break but Milutinov and Spanoulis soon brought Olympiacos within 49-39, after a 0-6 run. Diez stepped up with a tip-in but Unicaja went scoreless from more than six minutes. Meanwhile, three-pointers by Papapetrou and Mantzaris sparked a game-changing 0-17 run in which Spanoulis had five points and McLean dunked for a 51-56 Olympiacos lead. Free throws by Okouo and Dragan Milosavljevic kept Unicaja within 54-56 after 30 minutes. Strelnieks followed a floater with a triple early in the fourth quarter but Milosavljevic and Suarez kept Unicaja within 59-61. Bobby Brown hit a floater and three-pointers by Roberts and Kyle Wiltjer gave the guests fresh air at 63-69. McLean took over with a high-flying tip-in and Roberts downed a corner triple but Nedovic and Waczynski got Unicaja even closer, 70-74. Nedovic hit free throws and scored off a steal to tie the game, 74-74, with 1:16 left. It all went down to the final shot of regulation, in which Spanoulis missed from downtown.
Mantzaris opened the extra period with a three-pointer and Kim Tillie bettered Nedovic's layup with a bomb from downtown, good for a 76-80 Olympiacos lead. Alberto Diaz joined the three-point shootout but free throws by Milutinov restored a 79-82 Olympiacos edge with two minutes left. Waczynski tied the game with a big triple but Papapetrou answered from downtown for a 82-85 score with 43.7 seconds remaining. Waczynski nailed another three-pointer, Papapetrou missed around the basket and a jumper by Augustine allowed Unicaja to win the game, as Strelnieks missed from way downtown at the buzzer.
Both teams play their final regular season game next week - Unicaja visits Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul on Thursday and Olympiacos hosts Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday.
Friday, March 30, 2018