Olympiacos KOs Efes, heads to London to defend crown
Reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Olympiacos Piraeus will head to London to defend its crown after knocking out Anadolu Efes Istanbul with an 82-72 victory Fridat at Peace and Friendship Stadium in the fifth and final game of their exciting playoff series. 2012 Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis led the champs with 19 points and 5 assists as Olympiacos rallied from a 15-point second-quarter deficit to win the game and series. Spanoulis’s layup with four minutes left game his team the lead for good, 68-67, and started a 16-5 charge to finish the game. In London, Olympiacos will face CSKA Moscow in the semifinals in a rematch of their thrilling championship game from last season. Georgios Printezis added 15 points and 7 rebounds as Olympiacos got points from 11 different players. Jamon Lucas led Efes with 14 points and 5 assists, Dusko Savanovic added 12 points and Jordan Farmar 11 in the loss. Kerem Tunceri made a three-pointer and dished assists – and Farmar and Sinan Gular also connected from deep – in a 0-13 blitz to open the second quarter that put Efes ahead 21-36. Olympiacos closed the gap to 8 by halftime, tied the game and took the lead in the third quarter and set the stage for an exciting finish. The lead changed hands three times in the last 10 minutes, but the closing minutes all belonged to Olympiacos, which can continue to dream of a repeat.
First quarter: Savanovic helps Efes take slim lead
Efes went inside to Semih Erden for two of its first three baskets. In between Spanoulis put the hosts ahead briefly with a triple. Erden committed his second foul just three minutes into the game as Kostas Papanikolaou scored and was fouled to make it 7-6. However Farmar and Savanovic answered to push the visitors ahead by 4. Spanoulis’s next basket was matched by Erden, who took a pass from Savanovic and threw down a two-handed slam to make it 11-15 midway through the quarter. Lucas further extended the Efes lead with a jumper. The Reds kept pace behind free throws by Printezis, Spanoulis and Dimitris Katsivelis. Lucas fed Farmar on the break for a layup and Guler scored with an impressive spin move in the paint. Josh Powell beat the buzzer with a long jumper to bring his team within 21-23 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Tunceri fuels 0-13 charge for the visitors
Efes kept its confidence into the second quarter. Stanko Barac scored inside, Farmar added a layup and Guler connected from behind the arc, while on defense the visitors held Olympiacos scoreless for nearly five minutes. A Farmar triple sparked an Olympiacos timeout, but even after that Tunceri knocked down a triple to completed a 0-13 run and put his team up 21-36. Printezis finally ended the Reds’ drought, but Farmar raced down court and scored seconds later. Stratos Perperoglou and Kyle Hines each scored their first points to rejuvenate the hosts. Even though the Olympiacos attack remained stalled, the Reds stepped up on defense and a Kostas Papanikolaou three made it 30-40. A second Papanikolaou triple closed the gap to 33-41 at halftime and gave the hosts – and their fans – hope for the second half.
Third quarter: Spanoulis leads Reds back
Game 4 hero Lucas scored a tip in a minute into the seconds half, temporarily restoring a double-digit lead. Powell countered for the hosts, but Lucas and Savanovic put Efes back up by 12. Powell started becoming a force with a second-chance basket. A pair of Spanoulis baskets closed the difference to 41-47 and got the Peace and Friendship Stadium rocking. A Guler layup was matched by a Powell jumper. Kostas Sloukas drained a three to make it a one-possession game… and Spanoulis followed with a game tying-triple, 49-49. Erden split free throws to put Efes ahead, but Printezis made sure it didn’t last. The forward collected a Sloukas miss, put it in and drew Erden’s third foul. Guler carved through the Olympiacos defense to tie the score with a layup. The lead continued to flip flop until Kerem Gonlum free throws pushed Efes ahead 54-55 at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Champs too strong down the stretch
The hosts looked to assert themselves at the start of the fourth quarter. Pero Antic buried a three, Acie Law penetrated for a layup and Perperoglou followed with a long jumper to make it 61-55, prompting an urgent Efes timeout. Josh Shipp banked in a tough shot for Efes, but Law matched him. After Savanovic scored inside, Perperoglou connected from downtown. Seeingly down and out, Efes roared back. A fast break Shipp slam over Hines silenced the crowd before Tunceri capped a 0-8 run with a triple to put the visitors up 66-67. Savanovic took a seat with 5 fouls and Spanoulis went inside for a layup that put the Reds back on top. Printezis added a triple and suddenly Piraeus was loud again. Printezis’s trademark baseline floater made it 73-68 before Hines rose to block Lucas. Free throw woes for Efes – Gonlum, Shipp and Erden combined for 3 of 6 – kept the visitors from getting too close. Instead Law drained a three from the corner with 1:24 to go to make it 76-70. Printezis split free throws with 54 seconds remaining, Olympiacos got the rebound and Spanoulis iced the victory from the line with 41 seconds left.
Friday, April 26, 2013