Olympiacos routs ALBA, stays perfect at home
Olympiacos Piraeus bounced back from its last defeat in Moscow and claimed a hard-fought 87-83 victory over visiting ALBA Berlin at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Tuesday night. The reds improved to 4-2, with a perfect 4-0 record at home, while the German champs dropped to 2-4. The Reds used a great offensive performance to amass a 16-point advantage, 45-29, midway through the second quarter and endured all ALBA attempts to come back. Oscar da Silva scored 9 points in the last 5 minutes to bring the visitors within 84-81 with 19 seconds to go, but free throws by Tyler Dorsey and Sasha Vezenkov allowed Olympiacos to celebrate. Dorsey led the winners with 13 points, on 6-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line. Kostas Papanikolau followed with 12 - all of them in the first quarter, and Kostas Sloukas finished with 10 points and 6 assists. Da Silva poured in 17 points to pace ALBA, which also had Maodo Lo, Jaleen Smith and Louis Olinde in double-digits with 11, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Luke Sikma was 1 point and 2 assists shy of a triple-double in the losing effort.
Both teams traded baskets in the early going, but the home team soon adjusted its defense to build an 8-4 lead after 4 minutes. Olinde took over to set the tone for the visitors as he buried a three and added an inside basket that kept ALBA close, 10-9. A fastbreak layup by Smith tied it at 13-13., although Olympiacos had already found its offensive momentum. Dorsey joined Papanikolau to spark a 14-4 run in which the pair had 10 points that established a double-digit lead, 27-17, in a blink of an eye. da Silva broke it with an alley-oop layup to close the first quarter with the visitors trailing 27-19.
ALBA kept rocking early in the second, allowing just 2 points in 3 minutes to come within 29-26 behind 5 points in a row by Yovel Zoosman. Georgios Printezis came to the rescue with a couple of his trademark buckets, fueling an 11-0 run capped with a triple by Sloukas that restored a comfortable margin, 40-26, midway through the second quarter. Lo came up big after the timeout and drained back-to-back threes and Sikma showed up to convert 2 offensive rebounds, feed Jonas Mattisek for a three and knock down another one of his own to diminish the damage, 50-42. Printezis answered from inside, sending the game to the locker rooms with Olympiacos still safe from any danger, 52-42, at the half.
Vezenkov helped the Reds stay ahead 60-47 with 8 points in a row, including a couple of three-point daggers, right after the break. ALBA fought back with Sikma and Olinde running the show to reduce the disadvantage to 62-53. The scoring pace slowed down on both ends, as the difference remained steady for a while. A monster dunk by Moustapha Fall followed by a three by Gieannoulis Larentzakis broke the trend and made it 69-55 for the Reds, and even though Tamir Blatt and Mattiseck tried to help the visitors get closer, a floater by Sloukas maintained a double-digit edge, 71-59, after 30 minutes.
The guests had a strong start in the last period, as Blatt and Mattiseck provided a three-pointer each that brought ALBA within 73-67. The Reds didn’t panic, though, and found Shaquielle McKissic and Printezis to cool it down, 77-67. Another bomb by da Silva, who also assisted Smith for an easy layup, got the German champs back on track, 79-73, with 3 minutes remaining. Things got even tighter after da Silva chained together a couple of buckets that made it 82-79 entering the last minute. After Dorsey drew a foul to turn it into a couple of free throws, da Silva answered quickly, but another pair from the line by Dorsey and a last one by Vezenkov sealed the outcome for the home team.
Cold-blooded Dorsey rises to the occasion
With the game on the line, 82-79 entering the last minute, Tyler Dorsey became the go-to guy for Olympiacos. Coming off a career game against CSKA Moscow in Round 5 in which he scored 32 points, Dorsey also finished as Olympiacos's top scorer against ALBA Berlin, collecting 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 23 minutes for a PIR of 17. The guard showed up in crunch time when he drew a foul with 20 seconds remaining that turned into a couple of free throws that established a valuable 84-79 edge for the Reds. He was the chosen one to take the ball in the next possession, right after Oscar da Silva brought the visitors back within 3 points with 17 seconds remaining and he didn’t tremble when he was sent to the line again. He added another two to finish 6 for 6 that helped his team hold off the German champs and celebrate another home win.
Different style, same result for Reds
The Reds had excelled in defense so far in the competition, as they had allowed opponents a mere 70.6 points per game, which was third-lowest in the league. Their defensive display was even stronger at home, having accepted just 62.7 points at Peace and Friendship Stadium. But against ALBA, Olympiacos used a different strategy to stay perfect at home, with four wins in as many games in front of its fans. They went for 27 points in the first quarter and 25 in the second, good for a 52-42 halftime lead that proved enough for the victory. Its 87 points-mark at the end of the game was its highest of the season so far and was based on a very good shooting performance all game long. Olympiacos finished with 22-of-35 (65.7%) two-point shooting, 9-of-23 (39%) three-point shooting, and 14-of-17 (82.4%) from the line.
ALBA’s frontcourt makes it tight
Despite trailing 45-29 midway through the second quarter, ALBA Berlin never surrendered and sewed itself to the game to come within one possession in crunch time. There were several factors that allowed the visitors to prevent Olympiacos from sealing the outcome earlier. Collectively, ALBA lived up to its reputation as one of the best teams in offensive rebounding by grabbing 16 boards under the Olympiacos basket. Those were 3 more than it averaged over the previous 5 rounds and they allowed ALBA to get 16 second-chance points - against Olympiacos’s 5. Individually, the visitors relied on a do-it-all version of Luke Sikma, who finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists for a game-high PIR of 22. He found timely help from Oscar da Silva, who had a terrific performance in the last quarter - 9 points in the last 5 minutes - to keep the game in the balance until the very end.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021