|Holding onto its share of first place in Group E, Olympiacos pulled away in the second half to beat Asseco Prokom 84-71 for its third straight victory on Thursday at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, Greece. Olympiacos improved to 3-1 and remains tied for the top in Group E alongside Tau Ceramica. The Reds host Armani Jeans Milano (2-2) next week before facing Tau in the Top 16 finale, which will decide the group winner and homecourt advantage for the Quarterfinal Playoffs. Prokom was strong for 20 minutes and trailed by just a point at the break, but the Reds overpowered the Polish champs in the second half and sent Prokom to its 11th consecutive defeat. Nikola Vujcic paced the Olympiacos attack with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Georgios Printezis added 14 points, while Ioannis Bourousis posted 13 and 11 rebounds to help the Reds outrebound their opponents 42-29. Theo Papaloukas scored 13 points and dished 6 assists. Davin Logan led Prokom with 24 points, while former Olympiacos forward Qyntel Woods, who was given a warm applause by the home crowd, had 12 points, the same as teammate Dan Ewing, in defeat.
Pat Burke scored with a nice post move to open the game for Prokom, but Olympiacos fed the ball inside too, with Vujcic connecting for three straight baskets to help Olympiacos to a 9-4 lead. The hosts were now playing with increased confidence as Printezis nailed a thee-pointer and ran the floor to cap a 12-0 run with a slam that made it 14-4. Logan found the opportunity to finish a fastbreak with a slam dunk to cut the difference to 16-8 and later on fired in a triple for 18-11. Vujcic was unstoppable, though, reaching double figures after 7 minutes of play to make it 20-11. Filip Dylewicz and Woods trimmed the difference further, to 20-15. Logan kept on connecting for Prokom with another 4 points of his own that brought the guests even closer, 20-19. Woods ended the action-packed quarter with a nice tip-in to beat the buzzer at 23-21, but still in favor of Olympiacos.
Papaloukas chipped in a three-pointer for 26-21 to start the second quarter, but Prokom found the answers and soon tied at 26-26 thanks to a triple by Woods. The visitors' perimeter players chose to give Papaloukas the opportunity to shoot from behind the arc and Papaloukas did not miss, finding the target twice in the row to push Olympiacos ahead by 34-26. The Olympiacos captain was not finished, either, as he now slammed to make it 36-26. But neither was Prokom done. Logan added another three-pointer, Ronnie Burrell a difficult corner jumper and a tip-in, while Adam Hrycaniuk scored with a layup to bring Prokom within a basket, 36-34. The guests lost the chance to take the lead, however, when Woods missed a three-pointer. Vujcic responded with his seventh basket in as many attempts and Printezis added a triple to make it 43-36. Prokom wouldn't back down, and found the way to 6 consecutive points as Logan nailed an off-balance three-pointer and Burrell finished a nice layup-plus-free throw to leave Olympiacos with a mimumum lead, 43-42, at the break.
A magnificent assist by Vujcic resulted in a basket-plus-free throw by Printezis to start the second half at 46-42. Yotam Halperin punished Prokom's zone defense with a three-pointer from the corner to make it 49-42. Burke was the first Prokom shooter to connect after halftime, but it was obvious that Olympiacos was dictating the tempo; Halperin added another triple, this time from the opposite corner, while Vujcic sent in a hook shot for a 52-44 scoreboard. Ewing landed a difficult three-pointer, but Printezis immediately increased the margin to 58-47. Olympiacos continued to find open shots from the weak side as Janero Pargo made a shot from behind the arc at 63-51. Dylewicz scored on an offensive rebound, but Vujcic, Bouroussis and Michalis Pelekanos combined to post the Reds' biggest lead so far, 70-55, after 30 minutes.
Ewing dunked for Prokom to start the fourth quarter, but Pargo drilled another three-pointer in response. Hrycaniuk, Logan and Woods were not ready to surrender, though; they combined for 7 unanswered points to cut the difference to 73-64 as Prokom seemed now to find offensive solutions with ease. Milos Teodosic stepped up for Olympiacos with a timely three-pointer to curb the visitors' enthusiasm at 76-64. Logan answered from downtown on the shot-clock buzzer, while Woods trimmed it more, to 76-70, with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left. To stop that challenge, Bouroussis bore offensive responsibility for Olympiacos to down consecutive baskets, returning the lead to double digits, 80-70. A couple of defensive minutes followed Vujcic put back an offensive rebound to end all suspense as Olympiacos won 84-71 and stayed in first place.
Thursday, February 26, 2009