Olympiacos survived a tough test in Group B by downing difficult Efes Pilsen 105-90 in the Pireaus, Greece on Thursday. Olympiacos improved to 3-1 and ties with Lietuvos Rytas for second place in Group B, right behind undefeated leader Unicaja. Meanwhile, Efes went down to 1-3 and registered its third consecutive road loss. Efes, however, hosts 4 of its 6 remaining games in this group. A recovered Ioannis Bourousis led the winners with 23 points in just 12 minutes. Linas Kleiza added 20, Panos Vasilopoulos had 18, Sofoklis Schortsianitis got 11, Nikola Vujcic contributed 10 while Theo Papaloukas dished 8 assists for the Reds. Mario Kasun and Igor Rakocevic each had 15 points to lead Efes. Kerem Tunceri and Bootsy Thornton added 13 apiece while Bostjan Nachbar got 10 for the guests, that led 38-46 late in the second quarter. Bourousis singlehandedly brought the Reds within 46-48 at halftime. A corner three-pointer by Nachbar gave Efes its biggest lead of the night, 52-61. Bourousis stayed on fire and got some help from Kleiza and Vujcic to make Olympiacos get a 76-69 margin after 30 minutes. Papaloukas shined in the fourth quarter with his court sense and experience while Vasilopoulos and Schortsianitis allowed the Reds to seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
Olympiacos tried to find Schortsianitis against Daniel Santiago in the low post early in the game. Santiago got Efes going with an uncontested dunk, however, and a mid-range jumper by Thornton gave the guests a 1-4 lead. Patrick Beverley collected a steal and raced downcourt for a layup-plus-foul that Schortsianitis followed with free throws to give the Reds their first lead, 6-4. Tunceri and Rakocevic struck from downtown to put Efes back ahead, 8-10. Olympiacos kept feeding Schortsianitis, that followed a put-back layup with free throws to make Efes call timeout at 13-12. Panos Vasilopoulos scored in transition but another triple by Tunceri tied it at 15-15. Thornton capped a 0-9 Efes run with consecutive three-point plays, as the Reds tried to improve their ball circulation with Vujcic and Papaloukas together on court. Papaloukas stepped up with a power layup and fed Vasilopoulos for a dunk that got Olympiacos within 19-21. Kleiza took over with a wild dunk that Vujcic followed with a layup to give the Reds a 23-22 edge, after a 8-1 run. A driving layup by Rakocevic and a buzzer-beating triple by Ender Arslan made Efes restore a 24-27 edge after 10 minutes.
Efes tried to open the court early in the second quarter with Nachbar at power forward. Vujcic scored against Kasun in the low post while a tip-in by Kostas Papanikolaou provided another lead change, 28-27. Vasilopoulos capped a 7-0 run with a corner triple, making Efes call timeout at 31-27. Kasun and Papanikolaou traded baskets while Arslan buried a rainbow triple to keep Efes as close as 33-32. Halperin sank a mid-range jumper, as Olympiacos changed its offense with Schortsianitis back on the floor. Charles Smith nailed a six-meter shot and then followed Kasun's high-flying tip-in with a corner triple to give Efes a 35-39 edge. The Reds kept missing free throws - 7-of-20 that far - and called timeout to adjust its offense. Nachbar sank foul shots while a driving layup by Rakocevic kept Efes ahead, 38-43. Olympiacos could not find the way to the basket and Rakocevic struck from downtown to make it an eight-point game, 38-46. Bourousis sank a triple and had all points in a 8-2 run that brought the Reds back to life, 46-48, at halftime.
Bourousis kept pacing Olympiacos with a backdoor layup immediately after the break but Tunceri quickly answered from downtown for a 48-51 score. Santiago scored in the paint, as Efes tried to slow down the game tempo to find better shots now. Rakocevic joined the three-point shootout, as Efes kept playing with outstanding intensity in defense. Rakocevic fed Tunceri for a reverse layup and a corner triple by Nachbar boosted the guests' lead to 52-61. Olympiacos did not panic, however, as Vasilopoulos, Beverley and Bourousis struck from downtown to bring the Reds back to life, 61-63. Kasun dunked it but Kleiza followed a driving layup with a triple to complete the hosts' comeback, 66-65. Efes faced severe foul trouble, as Santiago sat on the bench with 4 while Kasun and Kaya Peker each had 3. Thornton sank a mid-range jumper but an unstoppable Bourousis put Olympiacos back ahead, 68-67. Milos Teodosic sank a mid-range shot, as the game turned into a physical battle. Rakocevic and Kleiza traded free throws while back-to-back layups by Vujcic gave Olympiacos a 76-69 margin after 30 minutes.
Thornton downed a catch-and-shoot three-pointer early in the fourth quarter but Vasilopoulos immediately answered from downtown while Kleiza added a tip-in for a 81-72 score. Efes opted to use quick possessions without much success, missing open shots in crunch time. Free throws by Kleiza gave the Reds their first double-digit lead, 83-72. Nachbar tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a triple but Olympiacos controlled the game tempo with their most experienced players - Papaloukas, Vujcic and Yotam Halperin - together on court. A power layup by Vujcic and a seven-meter bomb by Vasilopoulos broke the game open, 88-75, with 7 minutes left. Smith scored in transition but Papaloukas now controlled the game tempo. He fed Schortsianitis for a dunk and 'Baby Shaq' added free throws for a 93-80 Olympiacos lead. Efes kept trying but everything was said and done already. Olympiacos confirmed its good moment against a tough opponent while Efes must stay strong at home in order to make to the Top 16.
Thursday, November 12, 2009