Olympiacos Piraeus shook off a slow start to roar back and beat FC Bayern Munich 82-68 on Wednesday in the third-place game at the WE'RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR in Valencia, Spain. It was the first victory of the preseason for the Reds, who had lost their debut the night before due to difficulties scoring. Points came hard to them early in this one, too, but by focusing on defense in the meantime, they stayed close enough to turn the game around slowly but surely. Kostas Sloukas scored just 5 points but his 13 assists were the key to the victory. Hassan Martin and Giannoulis Larentzakis led the winners with 13 points each while Georgios Printezis and Sasha Vezenkov had 12 each and Kostas Papanikolaou 10. Bayern got 11 points from Vladimir Lucic and 10 from Malcolm Thomas while Zan Sisko dished 7 assists.
After Printezis and Jalen Reynolds traded tough inside baskets, Robin Amaize used his speed to put Bayern ahead. Malcolm Thomas followed with 5 points, including the game's first triple, before Baldwin came on to dunk and stick a jumper at 4-14. Olympiacos couldn't buy a point until Aaron Harrison and Sasha Vezenkov uncorked the basket, but Bayern still led 10-17 after a quarter. Now, it was the Olympiacos defense that ruled as Harrison's second basked made it 15-19, but T. J. Bray and Nihad Dedovic answered from deep for Bayern. Giannoulis Larentzakis hit a tough triple to keep Olympiacos within 18-25 but Bray, with his second, soon opened a 20-30 lead. Larentzakis was back to beat the shot-clock buzzer, however, and Shaquielle McKissik beat the halftime one with a three-point play the hard way as Olympiacos suddenly was within 31-32 after 20 minutes. Octavious Ellis stole and dunked to set up Harrison's go-ahead basket at 35-34 soon after halftime. Triples by Printezis and Papanikolaou at 41-37 proved that Olympiacos had found its range. That opened up the middle for Hassan who tacked on some touch inside baskets as Sloukas dished left and right until his own free throws made it a double-digit lead that dropped by just a point, to 58-49, after three quarters. Lucic tried to keep Bayern close early in the fourth quarter, but Olympiacos was feeling it now as Sloukas hit a triple to make it 67-54 with 7 minutes left. Every door that looked a little open, Olympiacos shut the rest of the way to take a victory back to Piraeus.
Olympiacos scored just 4 points through the game's first 8 minutes after having managed just 57 the night before, but stuck with it until the sun broke through the clouds finally. From midway through the second quarter till late in the third, the Reds turned the game around with a 33-13 run that flipped a 20-30 disadvantage into a 53-43 lead. That run had the added advantage of involving plenty of players and plenty of spots on the floor, often turning defense into offense, which is the key for any team but has been the Olympiacos formula for years.
Deep shooting continued to vex Olympiacos early on Wednesday. Bayern hit 4 of its first 8 from downtown while the Reds struggled to a 1-for-7 start. But then Giannoulis Larentzakis hit the floor. Within 6 minutes he buried 2 super-tough shots from the arc, one of which he was fouled on, sparking a comeback from 10 down to within 31-32 at halftime. Larentzakis, who finished with 13 points on perfect shooting, might have had a bit of a local advantage. He had played in nearby Murcia last season before returning to his native Greece on a three-year deal with the Reds.
The Reds' comeback had a catalyst, and his name was Kostas Sloukas, who had all 13 of his assists in the game's final 22 minutes. The Reds were down 20-30 when he dished his first 3 to finish the first half. He added five more in the third quarter and 5 more in the fourth. His rekindled connection with Georgios Printezis was one thing, but his new one with Hassan Martin forced Bayern to close inside, which started leaving shooters open for Sloukas to feed, and he did so with relish.
Georgios Bartzokas, head coach
"First, I would like to mention that in general, about our days here in Valencia, we are thankful to the club of Valencia for their hospitality. It was a great tournament, and they gave us solutions and made us feel comfortable here. This process helped us to make a step up for our improvement and to get closer together, which is all we ask now. I will repeat that we are a completely new team. We hesitate a lot and we are trying to learn to play together. Doing that against such strong opponents as these EuroLeague teams is not easy. In that first half, we were hesitating a lot, trying to score in ways that were not normal. We changed in the second half. We trusted ourselves more and moved the ball without feeling any risk to find the other players. This is the way we have to play. There are no conclusions about our level now. First, we just need to control our emotions with COVID. Second, we need to get ready and find each other more. And third, we need to get ready to compete 15 days from now. Good luck to all the teams and thank you, again, to Valencia."
Aaron Harrison, guard
"We had a great second half. I think we just started playing together, defending, playing faster and having fun. We figured out how to win. Part of the preseason is getting better every day, and I think we just started to trust each other. We're still getting together, a new team, but in that second half we found our aggressiveness. Our defense was more aggressive and was turning into offense, too."
FC Bayern Munich
Andrea Trinchieri, head coach
"Compared to yesterday, we made a step back. We lasted only 18 minutes where we played good. We made two or three mistakes in a row at the end of the second quarter. We got depressed and from that point onward we didn't find a way to do what we had to do. I believe it's a very simple job: every player has to do what he's supposed to do. Sometimes we are ready to do it and sometimes we're not. We have three more preparation games to fix our game, offensively and defensively, and go through our growing pains."
Nihad Dedovic, guard
"We had two games and two losses here. At the end, I think we saw where the mistakes are, a lot of them. We have to improve. Luckily, we have a couple more days, exactly two weeks, until the first game of the season. We will try to do our best. We have a good group of guys who are willing to work, and we'll do that to be ready for the first game."