Olympiacos Piraeus topped Virtus VidiVici Bologna 80-91 on Thursday at the PalaMalaguti for the Reds first road win of the season. Olympiacos point guard Lynn Greer came off the bench for his first appearance in over a month for 23 points and 6 assists to lead the visitors, who improved to 6-4 and now share third place in Group A with Montepaschi Siena and Zalgiris Kaunas. Meanwhile Virtus dropped its fourth straight to fall to 2-8 and see its chances of reaching the Top 16 all but disappear. The hosts gave their young players the chance to shine this week, with three 18-year-olds seeing significant minutes, including point guard Stevan Stojkov, who started and scored 10 points and dished 7 assists in just his second Euroleague appearance, and Jean Canelo, who scored 11 of the bench. Despite the VidiVici youth, the home team was within 9 points early in the fourth quarter, however the Reds defense clamped down when it mattered to hold on for the win. Qyntel Woods finished with 17 points for Olympiacos, Marc Jackson added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Arvydas Macijauskas scored a season-low 10 and Jake Tsakalidis had 10 for the second game in a row. Dewarick Spencer scored 17 to lead Virtus and Donnie McGrath added 10.
Woods and Macijauskas combined for a 0-6 start for Olympiacos with a spectacular alley-oop on the fastbreak amongst the points. Guilherme Giovannoni made a three to launch Bologna’s night. When Matteo Da Ros entered the fray, the host had two 18 year-olds on the court and still managed to resist Olympiacos for a while. Stojkov added a three to his runner to bring his team within 1, but Macijauskas kept running and feeding his men well. Luca Garri and McGrath combined for a 7-0 spurt. That’s when Woods fiercely dunked twice, the first strolling through Bologna’s defense and the second on the break after he stole the ball off Canelo, yet another 18 year-old to get into the action for the hosts. The score stood tied at 18, but Olympiacos soon took charge, exploiting the Bologna defense in the last two minutes to end the first quarter with a Milos Teodosic bomb and a 20-25 lead.
Greer opened the second quarter with a fade-away jumper, but Canelo responded by putting back his own miss. Garri sank a desperate three, but Olympiacos’s offense looked a lot more fluid with Greer doing just about what he wanted on the court, dishing for a Tsakalidis dunk and scoring from mid-range to keep a 5-point edge. The guests got sloppy and Bologna took full advantage with Stojkov bringing his team within 1 with another three. Loukas Mavrokefalides got Olympiacos back on track before Spencer’s alley-oop responded to Woods’s two-handed jam. The Reds quickly took a 7-point advantage, which Teodosic turned into 10 as the visitors started their run-and-gun game again. Canelo scored, but Macijauskas stole and scored under the basket to give Olympiacos a 40-50 lead at halftime.
Olympiacos was dominant on the offensive glass in the early going, getting second and third opportunities and, just like in the first half, they got off to a 6-0 start. Virtus reacted with Spencer from the line and Garri off a volleyball-like pass from Stojkov. Jakson, rather quiet thus far, made a two-plus-one play after taking the rebound before Greer added a game-breaking three which forced VidiVici head coach Stefano Pillastrini to use a timeout at 47-64 midway through the third quarter. Canelo trimmed the difference to 14 points before stripping Greer off the ball. When Spencer went to the bench, Bologna struggled to find the basket, while Olympiacos was controlling the game, 55-69. Canelo somehow got rid of the defensive pressure to score the last basket, reducing the gap to 59-71 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bologna had a mountain to climb but started the last 10 minutes and 2 free throws from Andrea Michelori got the hosts within 9. However, Olympiacos’s defense was causing the hosts an awful lot of problems and it’s only thanks to some misfired Greek shots that the score stalled at 75-62. Bologna’s offense was relying too much on Spencer’s creative ability and Olympiacos took the necessary measures. Spencer was constantly and efficiently double and even tripled-teamed, while Bologna’s inside men, Roberto Chiacig and Michelori, failed to score some easy baskets. With 3:24 to the final buzzer, the 13-points gap was intact as Bologna’s hopes were starting to dwindle. A couple of exchanged baskets later and there was only garbage time separating Olympiacos from its first road win in the Euroleague this season.
Thursday, January 03, 2008