In a battle based on pride only at the bottom of Group A, Olympiacos rode a huge first quarter blast to a blowout 100-74 win over visiting Partizan in Athens on Wednesday. The victory broke their tie for last place by lifting Olympiacos to a 3-9 record while dropping Partizan to 2-10. A first quarter that Olympiacos won 26-8 set the tone for the rest of the game, although Partizan played the hosts even most of the rest of the way. Boris Gorenc led four Olympiacos scorers into double figures with 18 points, making 3 of 4 three-pointers. Vangelis Sklavos followed with 16, Ivan Jurkovic 11 and Giannis Kalampokis 10 for the winners. Partizan got 22 points from Blake Stepp, 20 from Luka Bogdanovic and 10 each from Predrag Samardziski and Uros Tripkovic.
Gorenc stole and scored an easy fastbreak layup to start the game with a sign of things to come. Partizan struggled to set up its offense against a tough, doube-teaming Olympiacos perimeter defense. The hosts rolled to a 9-0 lead until Predrag Samardziski's tip-in gave Partizan its first points after more than 5 minutes. Little changed as Olympiacos continued to hunt easy baskets, either on the fastbreak or on quick attacks. The lead soared to 14-2 and then 19-4 mainly thanks to backcourt players Gorenc, Marque Perry and Roger Mason Jr. Partizan tried to put the ball in the paint, but were as ineffective there as from the perimeter. At least the visitors’ big men drew some fouls and made some free throws. Olympiacos sub Sklavos fired in a triple and Perry scored at the buzzer to boost the margin to 26-8 after 10 minutes.
Sklavos scored more easy baskets as the gap reached 32-8 to start the second quarter. Bogdanovic nailed a three-pointer to push Partizan into double digits more than 12 minutes after the tipoff. Another triple by Bogdanovic cut the difference a bit at 34-16. Partizan’s inexperience due to so many injuries was evident and easy for Olympiacos to exploit. Backup guard Kalampokis chipped in a couple shots from behind the arc to make it 41-21, then Jurkovic nailed the Reds' third triple in a row for a 44-21 difference. Bogdanovic fed Samardiski for a pretty basket, but Partizan kept having defensive transition problems as Kalampokis reached 10 points already with a fastbreak layup. Jurkovic's tip-in at the buzzer made it 51-26 after a half that was all Olympiacos.
Lazaros Agadakos hit a jumper, Gorenc a three-point play and Jurkovic a layup as Olympiacos started the second half with a 7-0 run and raised the margin at 32 points. The difference reach i64-30 thanks to another triple by Gorenc who begun the second half as hot as the first one. Stepp started scoring, but nothing was enough to raise Partizan's low morale. With the score at 70-34, however, Bogdanovic produced the play of the game with an ecstatic two-hand dunk plus the free throw that came with it. Still, the scoreboard was under control of the hosts as demonstrated again with a buzzer-beater by Dimitris Misiakos that closed the third quarter at 79-47.
The last period was about entertaining the crowd. Bogdanovic chipped in a three and Sklavos answered back with a basket-plus-foul. Semih Erden slammed the ball for Partizan as the score stood at 89-52. Olympiacos used a lot of reserves and the Partizan teenagers produced some impressive plays amid a string of unforced errors. The crowd applauded some nice moves by the visitors, but the margin was still sky-high at 94-59 and would stay that way even as Stepp fired in from downtown to beat the shot clock. The only question was whether the Reds would reach the century mark, and free throws by Jurkovic assured that, giving the Olympiacos supporters a 100-74 victory to enjoy that is also likely to avoid a last-place finish when the regular season ends in a couple weeks.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Stelios Kyriakoglou, Athens