Spanoulis leads another comeback to send Olympiacos to title game!
Olympiacos Piraeus will play for its fourth EuroLeague title after erasing a 13-point deficit to beat CSKA Moscow 78-82 in a thrilling first semifinal at the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four at Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday. The game was tied entering the final minute after Vassilis Spanoulis fueled a patented Olympiacos comeback with 10 fourth-quarter points. Erick Green came through with a big go-ahead three, which was one of 14 the Reds made to tie a Final Four record. And CSKA did not make another basket. Spanoulis, who also dished a game-high 6 assists, was joined by Georgios Printezis and Kostas Papanikolaou as the team’s top scorers with 14 points apiece. Vangelis Mantzaris added 12 on 4-of-9 three-point shooting. That foursome was all on the Reds’ squad that came from behind to defeat CSKA in the 2012 championship game in the very same arena. Milos Teodosic led CSKA with 23 points, which moved him into eighth place on the Final Four all-time list of scorers with 148 points. Nando De Colo added 16 and Aaron Jackson had 12, while Victor Khryapa collected 8 rebounds to become the first man with more than 100 career boards in Final Four history. The Reds outrebounded CSKA 35-43, including 19 offensive rebounds, which helped make up for its poor 11-of-35 two-point shooting (31.4%). Olympiacos also dished 15 assists compared to 7 for CSKA.
First quarter: 11-0 run puts CSKA in charge
De Colo needed just 13 seconds to swish a stop-and-pop jumper and Aaron Jackson bettered Nikola Milutinov's layup with a three-pointer that gave CSKA a 5-2 lead. De Colo kept pacing his team with a driving layup, but Printezis hit a floater off the dribble and Spanoulis added free throws to keep Olympiacos within 7-6. Kostas Papanikolaou struck from downtown to give Olympiacos its first lead, 7-9, after a 0-7 run. Andrey Vorontsevich buried a five-meter jumper and Jackson added foul shots to restore a CSKA edge. De Colo hit free throws and Teodosic had the final 5 points in an 11-0 run that boosted CSKA's lead to 18-9. Ioannis Papapetrou split foul shots and a tip-in by Printezis brought Olympiacos a bit closer, 18-12, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Teodosic shines, CSKA extends lead
Printezis split free throws early in the second quarter and a layup by Khem Birch made it a 3-point game. James Augustine stepped up with a couple of put-back layups, but Papapetrou sank a left-handed jump hook and Vangelis Mantzaris added a triple that ignited the Olympiacos crowd at 22-20. De Colo returned to the foul line to 2 two more and Kyle Hines added a layup to give CSKA some fresh air at 26-20. De Colo took over with a driving layup that caused Olympiacos to stop the game at 28-20. Hines provided a highlight with a two-handed slam that gave CSKA its first double-digit lead, 30-20. Printezis followed a three-pointer with free throws, but a red-hot Teodosic struck twice from downtown and added a foul shot for a 37-25 CSKA lead. Spanoulis hit free throws and found Mantzaris for a three-pointer, and Dimitrios Agravanis beat the halftime buzzer with a wild bomb from downtown to bring the Reds within 40-33 at halftime.
Third quarter: Papanikolaou, Mantzaris keep Olympiacos close
Milutinov took over with an alley-oop layup immediately after the break and Papanikolaou fired in a three-pointer, but De Colo singlehandedly kept CSKA fully in charge, 44-38. CSKA entered the foul penalty with eight minutes left in the quarter, however, and Olympiacos was fully aware. Printezis made free throws and another triple by Papanikolaou brought Olympiacos within 46-43. Nikita Kurbanov made foul shots, Milutinov split attempts and a three-pointer by Jackson extended CSKA's lead to 51-44. Printezis and Hines traded free throws before a jumper by Teodosic boosted his team's lead to 55-46. Victor Khryapa and Cory Higgins hit foul shots, but Papanikolaou followed a triple with a jump hook and Mantzaris also struck from beyond the arc, which caused CSKA to call timeout at 60-54. Teodosic and Higgins kept pacing CSKA, but back-to-back three-pointers by Agravanis and Mantzaris got Olympiacos within 64-60 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: down to the wire - again!
Agravanis made free throws early in the fourth quarter and Khryapa split attempts for a 65-62 CSKA lead. That’s when Spanoulis came off the bench and delivered with a driving layup, but De Colo erased it with a jumper and Augustine added a tip-in for a 69-64 CSKA edge. Olympiacos called timeout and Green finished a three-chance offense with a three-pointer. A driving layup by Spanoulis soon tied it at 69-69 with over four minutes left. Jackson shined with an electric driving layup, but Spanoulis matched him to tie the game again, 71-71. Jackson kept pacing CSKA with foul shots, but a step-back three-pointer by Spanoulis completed Olympiacos's comeback, 73-74, with 1:53 remaining. Spanoulis found Birch for an alley-oop slam, but a three-pointer by Teodosic tied it at 76-76. Green answered from downtown, off the dribble, for a 76-79 Olympiacos edge with 41.9 seconds on the clock. Teodosic split free throws on the next possession, but Spanoulis did the same with a chance to ice the game. It came down to Higgins, who went to the line with his team down 3 in the closing seconds. After making the first, he intentionally missed the second, but his team was unable to grab the rebound and the Olympiacos section erupted in song knowing they will play for the title on Sunday.
Friday, May 19, 2017