Spanoulis, Hunter lead Olympiacos to eighth win
Olympiacos Piraeus kept first place in Top 16 Group F by downing EA7 Emporio Armani Milano 74-83 on the road on Friday. Olympiacos improved to 8-1 in Group F and could qualify for the playoffs as soon as next week. Milan dropped to 2-7 and has slim chances to stay alive in the competition. Vassilis Spanoulis led the winners with 14 points and 8 assists. Othello Hunter also had 14 points, Georgios Printezis added 13, Bryant Dunston 12 while Tremmell Darden scored 10 for Olympiacos. Alessandro Gentile led Milan with 24 points. MarShon Brooks added 17 for the hosts. Darden and Dunston shined early to give Olympiacos a double-digit lead, 4-15. Olympiacos led 12-22 after 10 minutes, but Brooks and Bruno Cerella helped Milan get as close as 25-26. Olympiacos found a new go-to guy in Hunter, who got help from Spanoulis to restore a double-digit lead, 32-42, at halftime. Gentile tried to change things for Milan after the break, but Hunter and an outstanding Printezis ensured the guests kept their lead, 56-66, through three quarters. Olympiacos improved its defense in crunch time, as Printezis and Dunston stepped up to seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
First quarter: Dunston sparks strong Olympiacos start
Tremmell Darden got Olympiacos going with a free throw and a put-back basket by Printezis gave the Reds a 0-3 lead. After Gentile hit a six-meter shot, Darden nailed a turnaround jumper and a layup by Bryant Dunston boosted the guests' lead to 2-7. Gentile kept pushing Milan with free throws, however Darden nailed a baseline jumper and Spanoulis found Dunston for a slam that caused the hosts to call timeout at 4-11. Dunston hit free throws and Spanoulis scored in penetration to cap a 0-8 Olympiacos run. Brooks struck from downtown and Daniel Hackett added a layup to bring Milan within 9-15. Matt Lojeski stepped up with a fast break layup and Printezis scored again to restore a double-digit Olympiacos lead, 9-19. Dunston took over with a wild dunk-and-foul, which Brooks matched with his own three-point play to keep Milan within 12-22 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Milan rallies, buts Reds respond
Joe Ragland stepped up with a backdoor layup early in the quarter, as Olympiacos tried a smaller lineup with Darden at power forward. Ragland scored again in penetration, before the Reds called timeout at 16-22. Brooks hit a step-back jumper, but Hunter scored around the basket. Another driving layup by Ragland made it a 4-point game. Darden nailed a stop-and-pop jumper, but Shawn James split foul shots and Brooks nailed a jumper of the dribble to bring the hosts within 23-26. Vangelis Mantzaris bettered Bruno Cerella's jumper with a corner triple. Cerella insisted with a driving basket, but Hunter hit a jump hook and a free throw by Spanoulis restored a 27-32 Olympiacos lead. Spanoulis hit a three-pointer and fed Hunter for an alley-oop slam, but Ragland answered from downtown and Linas Kleiza added a put-back basket to make it 32-37. Spanoulis and Printezis hit foul shots and a layup by Hunter gave the Reds a 32-42 advantage at halftime.
Third quarter: Gentile keeps home team alive
Hackett buried a six-meter jumper immediately after the break and a free throw by Brooks gave Milan hope at 35-42. Samardo Samuels dunked, but Mantzaris answered from downtown for a 37-45 Olympiacos lead. Gentile took over with an off-balance basket in transition and hit 3 of 4 free throws to keep Milan within 42-45. Oliver Lafayette found Printezis for a layup, as Olympiacos entered the foul penalty. After Hackett and Gentile split foul shots, Hunter scored down low. Gentile kept pacing the hosts with a backdoor layup, but Spanoulis did better with a triple and found Printezis for an alley-oop layup. Gentile scored again, but Ioannis Papapetrou came off the bench and immediately delivered with a three from the corner. After Brooks scored in penetration, Samuels added a layup and Gentile kept Milan within 54-57. Kostas Sloukas and Brooks exchanged jumpers before Spanoulis struck downtown for a 56-62 advantage. Hunter scored in the paint and Printezis added his trademark one-handed baseline jumper - from the same spot as the 2012 Euroleague-winning shot - to give Olympiacos a 56-66 margin.
Fourth quarter: Olympiacos stays strong to snatch victory
Hunter banked in a close shot early in the quarter to cap a 0-9 run. Gentile stepped up with a close jumper, which Sloukas bettered with a layup-plus-foul that made it a 13-point game. Gentile stayed on fire with a driving basket and free throws. Milan entered the foul penalty with over seven minutes left, but even though Sloukas made free throws, Kleiza answered from downtown to make it 65-73. Printezis took over with another backdoor layup and a close basket by Dunston kept Olympiacos out of trouble at 65-77. Milan struggled to score when it mattered most and a free throw by Dunston seemed to seal the outcome at 65-78 with three minutes left. David Moss nailed his trademark corner three-pointer and Gentile scored in the low post, but a three-pointer by Lojeski allowed Olympiacos to start celebrating yet another road win.
Friday, March 6, 2015