Olympiacos started the new season in style Wednesday with a 97-78 win over Tau Ceramica at the Peace and Friendship stadium in Piraeus, Greece. Rookie Alex Acker put on an impressive display to lead coach Pini Gershon to victory in his Euroleague debut with the club. The hosts controlled the pace for much of the night as struggling Tau couldn't find the answers, even though injured star Luis Scola gave it everything he had in 21 minutes. Acker scored a game-high 25 points and hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds for Olympiacos, which also got 19 from Henry Domercant and 18 points and 7 rebounds from Andrija Zizic. Ryan Stack was good for 10 points and 7 boards. Tau, which made 12 three-pointers, was led by Igor Rakocevic with 19, Zoran Planinic with 15 and Serkan Erdogan with 13.
Planinic drained a triple to get the scoring started for Tau, but soon Acker drove to the hole twice in the row to put Olympiacos ahead 4-3. Erdogan chipped in another from behind the arc, but again the Reds got another layup from Acker to tie the score. The game continued at a fast pace, with Zizic scoring 5 consecutive points for the hosts. Acker remained hot and after another layup and a nice open-court assist to Scoonie Penn, Olympiacos had built a 15-7 lead. Fred House stepped up for Tau to nail a three-pointer and curb the Reds’ enthusiasm. But again, the visitors proved weak to Olympiacos’s transition game and Zizic found easy points in the paint that made it 19-10. When Stack grabbed another rebound and went to the line for two free-throws, Scola stepped onto the court for the first time and his presence proved essential for Tau. Rakocevic connected from the three-point-line to cut it to 21-13 and that was a sign of things to come. Rakocevic soon added a pair of triples that helped Tau close to within 24-19. Stack answered back with a nice turn-around jumper, but Tau connected on its its seventh triple so far, this time from Erdogan, to close a high-scoring first period at 29-22.
Domercant connected beyond the arc as Olympiacos rallied for a double digit lead for the second time, 32-22. When Sofoklis Schortsianitis blocked Scola's shot and dunked the ball on the other end, the Reds went 13 points ahead. Rakocevic and Schortsianitis exchanged baskets; the first another three-pointer and the latter another dunk at 37-26. Scola found his first points from a jumper, but Olympiacos continued to dominate the boards on both ends. Acker and Zizic added points from the charity stripe as the hosts surged to 44-28 halfway through the second quarter. Offensive rebounds continued to fall to Olympiacos, but Tau did not allow the hosts to score second-chance points. When Scola, House and Planinic connected the visitors suddenly came as close as 46-37. Tau started using a full-court press to trim the gap even more. Rakocevic and Acker stepped up once again in the final minute of the period for Tau and Olympiacos, scoring 5 and 4 points respectively as the Reds went to the locker rooms with a 50-42 advantage.
Olympiacos started the third quarter in the same fashion with transition buckets from Penn, Domercant and Stack. When Acker also connected, the Reds went ahead 58-43. Kaya Peker answered back with 5 points of his own for Tau, but the rhythm remained too fast for the visitors. It was evident that Tau had to control the tempo in order to cut the margin. Erdogan added another triple, the visitors’ 10th so far, to make it 64-52. Schortsianitis came in off the bench to cause some serious trouble to Tau’s frontline on both ends, and when he scored a basket-plus-foul, the fans went crazy in the stands singing his name. However, Erdogan’s big triple not only silenced the crowd, but proved the beginning of an impressive Tau’s comeback. Coach Velimir Perasovic ordered a full-court press once more and it worked as Planinic exploded for 6 straight points that brought it to 67-61. Tau forced Olympiacos to slow its tempo, while House and Peker increased Tau’s run to 10-0 and made it a 2-point game at 67-65. Acker stepped up for Olympiacos to score a basket-plus-free-throw to close the third period at 70-65.
After dishing 6 assists so far, it was time for Pablo Prigioni to put his name on the scoring sheet with a triple that made it 70-68. Panagiotis Vassilopoulos answered back the same way for Olympiacos. Then Acker took charge; the swingman grabbed another couple of rebounds, stole one ball and nailed a decisive perimeter jumper to lead the Reds to a 77-68 advantage, six minutes to the final buzzer. When Vassilopoulos made two from the line, the margin was again double digits at 81-70 and Tau seemed unable to bounce back. Domercant’s two triples in the row brought the score to 87-70 and caused the fans to get as loud possible. There were still four minutes to play, but both teams had already realized the final outcome as Olympiacos started this year’s competition celebrating a convincing 97-78 win over struggling Tau.