Olympiacos shakes off slow start, wins comfortably over Zalgiris
Olympiacos Piraeus shook off a slow start and ended up racing away from Zalgiris Kaunas for an impressive 83-68 home victory. Two days after losing in overtime to FC Barcelona, Olympiacos fell behind by 14 points midway through the second quarter. But the Reds tied the game in the third quarter en route to a 27-10 period and ended up improving their record to 3-1. Kostas Sloukas paced four Olympiacos players in double figures with 17 points while Giannoulis Larentzakis scored 13 points, Sasha Vezenkov 12 and Kostas Papanikolaou had 10. Zalgiris remained winless at 0-4 despite Emmanual Mudiay tallying 19 points with 4 assists while Arturuas Milaknis scored 14 points and Josh Nebo added 12.
Mudiay opened the game with a jumper for the guests, with Olympiacos needing more than 2 minutes to score on a three-pointer from Papanikolaou, which was followed another triple from Tyler Dorsey for a 6-5 lead. Zalgiris was working hard on defense and used the long ball as Milaknis buried 3 three-pointers in a 2-16 run for a 8-21 advantage. Olympiacos got four points back but it was 12-23 after 10 minutes. Tyler Cavanaugh hit a long jumper as the first score of the second quarter for the guests. Sloukas did manage a three-pointer at the other end but the Zalgiris offense continued to hum, especially Mudiay with four more points for a 15-29 cushion. Olympiacos started getting hot from long range as well, as Shaquielle McKissic hit a triple and Larentzakis made two more to get the margin to 28-34. Mantas Kalnietis added a triple of his own to make it 30-39, only to see Olympiacos score the final six points to pull within 36-39 at intermission.
Zalgiris’s big lead was gone for good with Thomas Walkup’s three-pointer to even things at 39-39 to start the second half. Vezenkov followed with back-to-back triples and Olympiacos was ahead 45-43. The Reds kept pushing offensively with Dorsey and Papanikolaou draining three-pointers in an 18-4 surge to close the third quarter with a 63-49 advantage. Mudiay’s three-point play started the fourth quarter, but the hosts were not fazed with Sloukas knocking down two more three-pointers and Larentzakis hitting another in an 11-4 surge for a 78-58 cushion. And the rest of the game was just cosmetics.
Pivotal performer - Kostas Sloukas
Kostas Sloukas was not only Olympiacos’s top scorer in Friday’s win over Zalgiris with 17 points but he also drained 3 three-pointers off the bench while offering up 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. The 17 points was a season-high for Sloukas and they were the most since he tallied 17 points in Round 22 last season against AX Armani Exchange Milan. Sloukas was also very efficient as he went 4-of-5 on 2-pointers and 3-of-5 from long range - though he missed his only free throw.
Mudiay with best showing thus far for Zalgiris
Emmanuel Mudiay will be a major part of Zalgiris’s attempts to win games this season, and against Olympiacos the exciting guard had his best game thus far. He collected 19 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and just 1 turnover in more than 25 minutes. That came two days after he went scoreless with four missed shots, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 17 minutes against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. Mudiay, who is making his European debut this season, had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in the season opener against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and then picked up 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 13 minutes against Zenit St Petersburg.
Telling numbers - Olympiacos finally shoots well from long range
Olympiacos came into the game having struggled thus far this season from beyond the arc, hitting just 22 of 80 three-pointers (27.5%). Georgios Bartzokas’ men looked to be in for another poor night after knocking down just 2-of-7 triple attempts (28.6%) in the first quarter against Zalgiris. But then seven Olympiacos players drained at least one three-pointer - nine players attempting at least one - including Giannoulis Larentzakis and Kostas Sloukas who both made three three-pointers. All told, the home side connected on 14-of-28 three-pointers for an outstanding 50.0%.
Friday, October 15, 2021