Olympiacos Piraeus was out of sorts in the first half against ALBA Berlin on Thursday and needed a spark in the second half to confirm its big win last week at Zenit St Petersburg. It was Livio Jean-Charles and Shaquielle McKissic who provided the much-needed punch.
Olympiacos turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter alone and trailed by 15 points during the second quarter. A massive 27-9 third quarter was just what head coach Georgios Bartzokas called for in a 75-71 home win.
"We needed to play really good defense in the second half, we needed to share the ball a lot, we needed to find the open man, and we needed to play with energy and desire on defense to come back into the game," the coach said after the win.
Down by 11 points coming out of the locker room, McKissic took over the proceedings with a big dunk, 2 assists and a three-pointer in cutting the deficit to 38-39. Both of those assists went to Jean-Charles, who had 6 points in that spurt and added two foul shots before it was his hook shot that gave Olympiacos the lead 45-44 - an advantage the hosts would not relinquish the rest of the game.
The margin was 51-44 after three quarters and ALBA came out and trimmed it to 53-52 early in the final frame. Jean-Charles answered with a big three-point play and McKissic threw down another big dunk as the advantage swelled to 63-52. Sasha Venzenkov stepped up as well in the final quarter with a pair of big three-pointers as Olympiacos got the job done.
McKissic led Olympiacos with 14 points while also collecting 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals and Jean-Charles tallied 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Jean-Charles ended up fouling with 47 seconds to play, but his showing at both ends was paramount to the victory.
In the end, it was a tale of two halves for Olympiacos, and luckily for the Reds, they had Jean-Charles and McKissic there to deliver the big spark for the win.