Olympiacos survived an overtime thriller against Lietuvos Rytas for an 83-89 victory at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania, to put a foot inside the Top 16. The Reds improved to 6-2 and can officially claim a Top 16 berth if Unicaja beats Efes Pilsen on Thursday. Meanwhile L. Rytas fell to 4-4 and will face a crucial test after the winter break when it visits Partizan. The Lithuanian champs led much of the game, but Olympiacos came on late as three L. Rytas rotation players fouled out. Ioannis Bourousis was a force down the stretch for the visitors, but Bojan Popovic met him and forced overtime with 2 free throws with 5.6 seconds left. In the extra period, Bourousis continued to dominate, but L, Rytas always fought back. Milos Teodosic had the final word with 4 free throws in the last 35 seconds to ice the win. Bourousis finished with 19 points – 16 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime. Linas Kleiza shined early for the Reds, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds in his first game as a visitor in his home country. Teodosic was good for 18 points as was Josh Childress. Theo Papaloukas orchestrated the Reds with 10 assists. Popovic paced L. Rytas with 19 points and 5 steals, Martynas Gecevicius added 17 points, Milko Bjelica 13 and Arturas Jomantas recorded 11 points and 6 assists.
The hosts won the opening tip and went ahead immediately on a Gecevicius triple from the corner. Kleiza struck first for the visitors. The pace was fast as the teams poured in points. Teodosic knotted the game at 5-5 with a triple, but soon Jomantas’s steal and slam put L. Rytas up by two baskets. Aron Baynes blocked a Childress attempt and Gecevicius capitalized at the other end with a fast break layup. Another Baynes block, this one on Sofoklis Schortsanitis, resulted in a Donatas Zavackas triple, a 14-5 L. Rytas lead and an Olympiacos timeout. Papaloukas came on to organize the Reds’ attack and Childress scored on the next possession. Kleiza added a long jumper and then a slam in finishing a fast break as Olympiacos got right back in the game. Jomantas banked in a shot, but Bourousis matched him and L. Rytas needed a timeout. Bjelica scored inside and Jomantas drained a jumper to increase the lead again and Popovic’s steal and buzzer-beating layup made it 22-13 after 10 minutes.
Jomantas found a cutting Bjelica for a slam-and-foul as the home team’s lead reached double figures. Teodosic answered with a three-pointer and Kleiza added another as the lead quickly shrunk to 5. Kleiza was feeling good as he sank another jumper before Bourousis tok the Reds’ run to 9 from the line. Gecevicius ended his team’s five-minute scoring drought with a three that made it 27-22. Yotam Halperin scored on the baseline, but Popovic found a hole in the Olympiacos defense for a layup. Nikola Vujcic got on the scoreboard with two minutes left in the half and Kleiza fixed a Halperin miss with a tip-in to narrow the gap to 29-28. A pair of Vujcic free throws knotted the game at 30-30. Baynes put the hosts back on top with a tip in and Popovic added an off-balance jumper before Halperin beat the halftime buzzer with a three to make it 34-33 at the break.
Teodosic gave the visitors their first lead of the night with a pair of free throws to start the second half. Bjelica scored over Schortsanitis, but Kleiza knocked down another triple. Gecevicius heated up, slashing for a layup and then drilling a triple to make it 42-38. Childress went through Jomantas for a basket-and-foul in transition as Olympiacos got to 44-43 midway through the quarter. Kleiza followed with his third three of the night to restore the upper hand to the Reds. Jomantas scored in transition to tie the score again. Gecevicius fird in a three from his favorite spot in the corner and Steponas Babrauskas hit from the same spot in the opposite corner to bring the crowd to its feet. Vujcic kept Olympiacos going with 2 free throws, but Babrauskas drained another three for the home team. Papaloukas drew Jomantas’s fourth foul and sank 2 free throws in the closing seconds to make it 57-53 heading into the deciding quarter.
Zavackas pushed the L. Rytas lead back up to 6 on the first possession of the fourth quarter, but Childress responded with a three-pointer. Bourousis hit a hook over Bjelica to make it a 1-point game. Popovic drilled a clutch triple that got the fans singing only for Teodosic to fire one in at the other end. Popovic’s free throws were erased by Bourousis down low. Popovic again went to the line and sank 2 and Bourousis again responded, this time on the offensive glass. Bjelica scored on a goaltending call against Childress, however Childress made up for it with a baseline drive. With 2:14 remaining, Teodosic gave the visitors their first lead of the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws. Papaloukas was next to the line after Jomantas committed his fifth foul. The Olympiacos playmaker made 2 for a 68-71 lead. Bjelica narrowed the gap with a runner, but then he too fouled out. Bourousis made just 1 with just under a minute to play. Gecevicus fed Baynes for a slam that tied the score, but then Baynes too fouled out guarding Bourousis. The Reds’ big man sank 2 free throws with 28.4 seconds remaining. Popovic wound the clock down and after a deflection took the ball out with 8.3 seconds left in the game and 5 left on the shot clock. Teodosic fouled him and Popovic sank a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left to tie the score at 74-74. The Reds took a timeout, but only got a long three that Teodosic missed, sending the game to an extra period.
Dejan Borovnjak, playing center with both Baynes and Bjelica out, was called for an unsportsmanlike foul as he tried to stop Bousousis on the first possession of the overtime period. Bousousis sank 2 free throws and then Papaloukas fed him inside on the resulting possession. Borovnjak narrowed the gap to 2, but Bourousis remained the top option for the visitors and again drew a foul and made 2 free throws. Popovic answered with 2 free throws. Papaloukas made a cross-court pass to Childress for a triple to increase the lead to 5. Borovnjak kept L. Rytas fighting with a layup. Gecevicus failed to make it a one-possession game when he made just 1 free throw, but Kleiza committed a foul on the rebound. Borovnjak went to the line with 36 seconds left and made just 1, closing the gap to 82-85. Teodosic sank 2 important free throws at the other end and Popovic missed a triple. Bourousis grabbed the rebound and Olympiacos started t kill the clock. Teodosic was fouled again with 16.4 second left and he made the free throws to up the Reds’ cushion to 7 and practically seal the victory.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009