|Real Madrid will look to extend its Euroleague season for at least one more game when it hosts Olympiacos Piraeus for Game 3 of their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Tuesday at Palacio Vistalegre in the Spanish capital. The Reds boast a 2-0 lead in the series with a pair of hard-fought wins in Greece last week. One more win will send head coach Panagiotis Giannakis’s men to the Final Four for the first time in decade. Although the club has not been to a Final Four, Giannakis can count on three former Euroleague champs – Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic and Yotam Halperin, all of whom played in last season’s title game – to provide the leadership needed to help his team win such a crucial game on the road. Madrid, meanwhile, has won six straight games on its home floor and will give everything to win twice and send the series back to Greece for a Game 5. Head coach Joan Plaza’s men are confident they can win after blowing fourth-quarter leads in the two games so far. Veterans Louis Bullock and Felipe Reyes have provided a solid scoring punch for the Whites, but Madrid has lacked consistent scoring from the bench. So far Olympiacos’s bench has outscored Madrid’s 94-44 this series. The Reds have also enjoyed a hotter hand, combining to make 17 threes at 48.6%, while Madrid has 10 at 28.6%. Part of the problem for the home team has been at point guard, where Plaza will need to see Raul Lopez, Pepe Sanchez or Sergio Llull grab the reins and lead the team offensively and defensively. The Madrid backcourt, which also included Bullock and Marko Tomas, matches up with the Reds’ deep rotation featuring Papaloukas, Halperin, Jannero Pargo and the red-hot Lynn Greer, who has averaged 20 points in the first two games. Nikola Vujcic has anchored the Olympiacos frontline along with Ioannis Bourousis and forwards Georgios Printezis, Josh Childress and Panagiotis Vasilopoulos. Madrid counters with Tomas Van den Spiegel and Reyes at the pivot and Jeremiah Massey, Axel Hervelle, Kennedy Winston and Alex Mumbru at the forward spots. The home crowd should give Madrid some extra confidence, which could prove to be the difference down the stretch after two close games so far. However it is worth noting that while Olympiacos had the weekend to prepare and rest without any Greek League contests, Madrid faced a trip to the Canary Islands where it lost to Kalise Gran Canaria in the Spanish League.
- Forward Felipe Reyes matched his Euroleague career high with 23 points in Game 2 against Olympiacos on Thursday. He first scored 23 in a February 2006 loss at Montepaschi Siena.
- Guard Louis Bullock has made at least 1 three-pointer in 11 straight Euroleague games. He is shooting 42.2% from downtown over that span. (27 for 64)
- Bullock is 3 assists away from tying former Milano and Benetton star Riccardo Pittis for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career assists charts. Bullock enters Tuesday’s game with 268 career assists.
- Bullock is the league’s leading free throw shooter among qualified players with 48 makes in 50 attempts for a 96% success rate.
- Center Tomas Van den Spiegel sits at 13th place on the Euroleague Basketball career shots blocked list with 75. He is 4 away from reaching Tau Ceramica’s Tiago Splitter for 10th place.
- Forward Alex Mumbru established his Euroleague career-high in points with 21 against Olympiacos in November 2002. Madrid won that game 73-66.
- Guard Raul Lopez set his Euroleague career high in assists against Olympiacos in December 2000. Lopez came off the bench and dished 9 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Reds won 91-84.
- Ten players in this series took part in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Madrid’s Felipe Reyes, Raul Lopez and Alex Mumbru won silver medals as members of the Spanish national team. Marko Tomas of Madrid played for Croatia. Olympiacos’s Theo Papaloukas, Ioanis Bourousis, Panos Vasilpopoulos, Georgios Printezis, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Michalis Pelekanos played for Greece under head coach Panagiotis Giannakis.
- Point guard Theo Papaloukas set a career-high and tied an eight-year old Euroleague Basketball playoffs record with 13 assists in Game 1 of the Quarterfinal Playoffs. He now shares the record with Elmer Bennett, who dished 13 for Tau Ceramica against AEK Athens in 2001.
- Papaloukas leads the full-season charts for assists with 5.4 per game. He has dished a minimum of 4 assists in every game this season.
- Center Nikola Vujcic has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.
- Swingman Michalis Pelekanos played for Real Madrid last season and saw action in 17 Euroleague games with the club. He was a teammate of six current Madrid players under head coach Joan Plaza.
- Big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis will miss the Quarterfinal Playoffs series after Olympiacos suspended him for one month due to disciplinary reasons.
- Olympiacos clinched a spot in the 2008 Quarterfinal Playoffs after beating Real Madrid in the Top 16 finale 72-63 in Piraeus. Panos Vasilopoulos sparked the Reds with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in that win.
Monday, March 30, 2009