2017-18PlayoffsGame 4
April 26, 2018 CET: 19:00
Local time: 20:00 ZALGIRIO ARENA

Zalgiris beats Olympiacos to storm into Final Four

The party at Zalgirio Arena spilled into the streets of Kaunas on Thursday night after Zalgiris Kaunas made history by defeating Olympiacos Piraeus 101-91 to clinch the club's first trip to the EuroLeague Final Four since the turn of the century. The Lithuanian champs won the best-of-five playoff series 3-1 to become the first team to clinch a spot at the Final Four in Belgrade. Zalgiris never trailed and led by as many as 23 in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. Kevin Pangos led the winners with 21 points, Edgaras Ulanovas posted 20 points and 9 rebounds and Axel Toupane added 11 points. Vassilis Spanoulis paced Olympiacos with 19 points and 6 assists, Janis Strelnieks scored 17, Kostas Papanikolaou 15, Kyle Wiltjer 12 and Brian Roberts 10. Olympiacos was without injured star Georgios Printezis.

A jumper by Pangos and a three by Paulius Jankunas had the arena rocking just a minute into the game. Roberts connected from downtown to get the visitors going, however great passing led to triples from Pangos, Ulanovas and Vasilije Micic, a 14-5 Zalgiris lead and an Olympiacos timeout. The Reds regrouped thanks to a long three by Spanoulis and drew within 18-13 through Papanikolaou, however Pangos responded from deep for his 10th point of the quarter. Nikola Milutinov, Roberts and Strelnieks all sank free throws in a 0-7 run that deflated the crowd and closed the gap to 21-20. Zalgiris turned to Brandon Davies in the paint to end its drought, but a Ioannis Papapetrou jumper on the buzzer made it 23-22 after 10 minutes. A put-back by Ulanovas and free throws from Antanas Kavaliauskas kept Zalgiris in front. Strelnieks kept it close with a three-pointer, but the Zalgiris bigs – Kavaliauskas and Paulius Jankunas – extended the margin. A mid-range jumper by Beno Udrih made it 35-27 midway through the second quarter. Back-to-back threes by Arturas Milaknis and Ulanovas and a floater by the latter completed a 14-0 run that made it 43-27. Spanoulis stopped the bleeding, but was burned on defense by Toupane who further extended the margin with a basket-plus-foul. Jamel McLean muscled his way to points in the paint on consecutive possessions and Spanoulis free throws made it 51-37 at the break.

Davies scored on Zalgiris's first two possessions of the second half, but Olympiacos got threes from Kim Tillie and Roberts. Davies free throws made it 59-43, but Papanikolaou made foul shots and Wiltjer hit a three from the elbow to bring the Reds within 11. Threes by Ulanovas and White had the fans on their feet at 65-48 midway through the third quarter. A three by Papanikolaou was erased by Kavaliauskas's three-point play and Ulanovas free throws made it a 20-point game. Ulanovas capped an 8-0 charge with a layup and –after a Papanikolaou drive – drilled a triple for a 76-53 advantage. Olympiacos refused to quit and Strelnieks hit from beyond the arc, but Aaron White's jumper gave the hosts a 78-56 cushion through three quarters. Strelnieks and Spanoulis started to chip away at the deficit despite Toupane's three-pointer. Wiltjer heated up and his three-pointer made it 83-71 with six minutes to play. After a timeout, free throws by Pangos reset the hosts. Strelnieks did his best to keep the pressure on, but even when the Zalgiris attack slowed, the hosts remained tough on defense. When White hit a three with 3:20 to go, the arena erupted at 91-76. The final three minutes were accompanied by singing. Papanikolaou and Spanoulis gave an impressive effort to get their team within 7 in the final minute, however the final buzzer and real celebrations were just around the corner.

Zalgiris Kaunas celebrates - EB17
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Euroleague.net
Referees: HIERREZUELO, DANIEL (ESP), JAVOR, DAMIR (SLO), DIFALLAH, MEHDI (FRA)
Attendance: 14411
By Quarter1234
Zalgiris Kaunas23282723
Olympiacos Piraeus22151935
End of Quarter1234
Zalgiris Kaunas235178101
Olympiacos Piraeus22375691
Zalgiris Kaunas
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
0 DAVIES, BRANDON 21:23 9 3/3   3/4 2 1 3 1 2 1     5 5 13
3 PANGOS, KEVIN 24:15 21 4/6 2/5 7/7 1 1 2 4 1     1 3 5 24
6 TOUPANE, AXEL 18:44 11 1/2 1/3 6/7   1 1 1         4 5 10
9 UDRIH, BENO 15:20 4 2/4       4 4 4   1         9
13 JANKUNAS, PAULIUS 16:54 8 1/2 1/2 3/4 4 3 7 2   2     3 3 12
19 SAJUS, MARTYNAS 0:28                         2   -2
21 MILAKNIS, ARTURAS 16:34 3   1/3     2 2 2         1   4
22 MICIC, VASILIJE 21:56 9 0/3 3/5     2 2 1 1 2 1   2 1 6
30 WHITE, AARON 18:41 8 1/3 2/2     1 1           3 1 5
44 KAVALIAUSKAS, ANTANAS 12:25 7 2/2   3/3       1         3 2 7
66 VALINSKAS, PAULIUS 0:25 1     1/2                   1 1
92 ULANOVAS, EDGARAS 32:55 20 4/8 3/4 3/4 3 6 9 2 1     2 2 5 27
Team             1 1               1
Totals 200:00 101 18/33 13/24 26/31 10 22 32 18 5 6 1 3 28 28 117
        54.5% 54.2% 83.9%
Head coach: JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Olympiacos Piraeus
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
1 MCLEAN, JAMEL 19:56 8 1/3   6/11 1 5 6   1       2 8 14
3 BROWN, BOBBY DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6 PAPAPETROU, IOANNIS 23:08 4 2/4 0/1   1 3 4           3 1 3
7 SPANOULIS, VASSILIS 30:14 19 3/5 2/7 7/7   2 2 6   5   1 4 5 15
11 MILUTINOV, NIKOLA 11:12 3 1/3   1/2 4 2 6           3 3 6
13 STRELNIEKS, JANIS 21:17 17 3/4 2/5 5/5   2 2 4 1       1 3 22
14 TILLIE, KIM 19:28 3 0/1 1/2   1 1 2 2   1     3 1 2
16 PAPANIKOLAOU, KOSTAS 23:51 15 2/2 1/2 8/9 2 1 3 3 1 1 2   5 5 21
17 MANTZARIS, VANGELIS 8:10     0/2         1         3   -4
22 ROBERTS, BRIAN 17:52 10 0/1 2/2 4/4       3 1       1 2 14
31 BOGRIS, GEORGIOS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
33 WILTJER, KYLE 24:52 12 3/6 2/5   1 2 3 1     1   4   7
Team           1   1     2         -1
Totals 200:00 91 15/29 10/26 31/38 11 18 29 20 4 9 3 1 29 28 99
        51.7% 38.5% 81.6%
Head coach: SFAIROPOULOS, IOANNIS

Head Coaches

JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS
Zalgiris Kaunas
"I think going into the series we knew we had a chance. After Game 1, we really knew we had a chance. We do believe. These guys are a very special group. It's true they don't have experience, but not too many teams in EuroLeague fight like Zalgiris fights. So I think they compensate for their inexperience with amazing spirit. They are all great people who love to improve. So my hat's off to them. Let's go celebrate and we'll get ready for Belgrade. [Olympiacos] is such a good team. They are high level team, greatly coached with so much experience. They have been an example of the fighting spirit in European basketball for the last five, six years. To defeat this type of team makes it even more special."
SFAIROPOULOS, IOANNIS
Olympiacos Piraeus
"I want to congratulate Zalgiris for the qualification to the Final Four. They played much better in the whole series and they deserve to go to the Final Four. For us it was very important that we lost Game 1, we lost the home-court advantage, we lost the advantage that we tried to get the whole season for nine months. It was very difficult here in this atmosphere against this great team to get the break back. We tried to do this, but we didn’t succeed. There is a reason for that and it’s not an excuse; we had a lot of problems with injuries. One week before the playoffs we played two Greek League games and we didn’t have four players for these games because they were injured. Those games should have been preparation for the playoffs, but unfortunately because of these absences, we tried to manage the injuries and not to prepare the team for the playoffs. We had also in Game 1 the new injuries to Milutinov and Bogris, both with knee problems, and they added to the players who came back not ready to play that caused big disorganization in our chemistry and our roles and who was ready, who was not ready to play. And of course we were out of shape after, let's say, one month of injured players that he plays the first game in the playoffs. I don’t have any complaints from my players. They tried to play their best, especially the injured players who played with their desire, although the doctors didn’t let them play with injections and they sacrificed themselves for the team. Let’s be realistic, the most important part of the season is the playoffs. You need to be in your best shape. You need luck to do this sometimes. Unfortunately we were unlucky."

Players

WHITE, AARON
Zalgiris Kaunas
"This is a really special moment for all of us, something we have been fighting for all year. And it's just a huge accomplishment for the club, all the players, the coaches, all the fans and everyone that supports Zalgiris. They were leaving everything on the court. We knew that going in. we just had to fight, make the right plays and make some free throws."
TOUPANE, AXEL
Zalgiris Kaunas
"It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable. Nobody would have thought this at the beginning of the season except for us, the coaching staff and players. Just simply by taking one game at a time, we have gotten so far. Now we have two more games. After you see womething like that, anything is possible. I am just happy, really proud. We didn’t wait for them to react or anything like that, we came ready to play. We brought energy, we were aggressive from the beginning. And then we played with the lead the whole game. Sometimes we struggle to play with the lead, but tonight we did great."
ULANOVAS, EDGARAS
Zalgiris Kaunas
"It's a big thing for our club. We expected a big fight against Olympiacos. Today was a very hard game, especially the second half. Fourth quarter was hard to save our lead. They had a chance to come back, but its goof that we came out as winners. You can have ups and downs, but it's most important how you react and to keep improving. Unbelievable atmosphere. The first game in Kaunas we played, Game 3 against Olympiacos, they gave us a ton. We expected this today. We started very good in today's game because we knew the fans were going to be good. Really half of the job was the fans. I want to say thank you to the Kaunas fans."
SPANOULIS, VASSILIS
Olympiacos Piraeus
"I am not looking for excuses. We had many injuries problems, not just during the series, but all season. Although we should have found a solution, we did not. Zalgiris was in better shape than us. We are very sad that we did not make it to the Final Four. We disappointed ourselves, our president and our fans. But that’s the way sports and basketball goes. We have to pick up the pieces and fight for the Greek championship."
WILTJER, KYLE
Olympiacos Piraeus
"They were playing very unselfish, the ball was moving, early on they hit some shots, they got their confidence going and then they made a huge run and we got too far down. We made a nice little run there, 30 minutes, 34 minutes, but it wasn’t enough. It’s tough to come back against a team like that, that far down. Hats off to them for winning this game."