Olympiacos demonstrated its status as a Final Four candidate by beating Euroleague debutant Air Avellino comfortably 69-83 in its Group A opener. Josh Childress paced five players in double figures in his first ever Euroleague game with 14 points as well as 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Zoran Erceg and Yotam Halperin each tallied 11 points and Georgios Printezis and Lynn Greer hit for 10 points apiece for the Reds. Former Euroleague MVP Theo Papaloukas chipped in 8 points and 4 assists in his return to the club. Head coach Panagiotis Giannakis's Olympiacos outrebounded Avellino 42-33, made 30-of-47 (63%) from inside the three-point line and blocked 8 shots. Chris Warren paced all scorers with 18 points and Travis Best added 14 points and 5 assists for the hosts. Nikola Radulovic chipped in 10 and Eric Williams had 8 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks for Zare Markovski's team, which was making its first ever appearance in the Euroleague. His team shot just 34% from the field and was unable to take advantage of 18 Olympiacos turnovers.
Best gave Avellino the lead to start the game and Childress soon scored his first basket in the Euroleague to even things at 4-4. Marko Tusek knocked down a three-ball to push the hosts ahead 9-4 while triples by Warren and Radulovic and a three-point play from Andrea Crosariol helped give Avellino a surprising 22-14 lead after one period.
Giannakis’s deep bench helped the visitors get back into the game with Milos Teodosic, Ioannis Bourousis, Panagiotis Vasilopoulos, Erceg and Halperin all scoring. Erceg knocked down a triple to knot things at 29-29. Best answered with a triple, but then Childress took over with two layups and his second blocked shot of the game in giving Olympiacos its first lead of the contest. Printezis and Papaloukas finished the second quarter with baskets for a 34-40 advantage at the break.
Drake Diener’s long ball started the second half and Williams cut the game to 41-42. But Olympiacos surged ahead with a 2-8 run for a 43-50 advantage. Best knocked down another three and a foul shot and Radulovic buried a triple as the hosts stayed within 54-59. Olympiacos, however, began to pull away for good though, leading 54-62 after three periods.
Halperin and Printezis both hit 2 baskets each during a decisive 2-12 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to build a 56-71 lead. Warren knocked down a triple and then pulled the game to within 61-71 with five minutes left. But the Reds played tough defense, holding Avellino scoreless for three minutes and hitting four foul shots for a 61-75 advantage with two minutes remaining. And that proved more than enough.
Thursday, October 23, 2008