Olympiakos of Greece has won in Berlin against Alba by 69-88 in a game that was much easier than expected for the visitors, in large part because Alphonso Ford again proved unstoppable. Ford scored 28 points, none more important than those that put Olympiakos in command early and nullified the effect of 5,000 fans cheering on Alba at Max Schmeling Hall. Alba could not overcome its injury troubles at guard enough to stop Ford, and as such, fell to 0-2 in Group A. Olympiakos is now a perfect 2-0 to start the season.
Who stops Alphonso Ford was the question in the first five minutes. Again and again last season's Euroleague scoring champ found his shots against Derrick Phelps, scoring seven points as Olympiakos went up 2-9. Berlin missed its first six shots and had to wait five minutes before Phelps ended with a three-pointer to make it 5-9. Step-by-step, Phelps found his way to control Ford better, Marko Pesic did a good job against Papaloukas, and on offense, drawing foul after foul and making 5 off 6 free-throws brought Alba back into the game. Another two free-throws by Phelps gave Alba its first lead at 14-13, but Olympiakos finished off the first quarter strong to lead 16-20.
The second quarter brought even more trouble for the Berliners, who did not control the boards (only five defensive rebounds in the first half) nor find open shots against the aggressive Olympiakos defense. The Olympiakos lead soared to double digits at 22-32 on a three-pointer by Dimitrios Papanikolaou. Coincidentally, Alba's depth problems got worse then as Wendell Alexis picked up a third foul. While Olympiakos was constantly rotating 10 players, Alba had to watch injured captain Henrik Rödl, Mithat Demirel and Stefano Garris sitting on the bench just to fill up the roster to ten players. By halftime, Alba's fould trouble had compounded as Phelps and Teoman Ozturk joined Alexis with 3 fouls each. Alba's field goal percentage of only 30 percent did not leave much hope for the 5,000-strong crowd in the Max-Schmeling Hall. And Ford, besides drawing Phelps' third foul, was up to 16 points and his team was leading 32-47.
Alexis opened the second half with a huge three-pointer (35-49) and Alba was now much tougher in rebounding, but with faulty outside shooting still a problem, the effect was only enough to keep the gap from widening beyond 43-56. The continuing inaccuracy from outside demoralized the home team, which had in Pesic and Alexis its only two constant scorers, while onon the other side Ford found more assistance from his teammates as the Olympiakos lead was at 52-67 entering the final quarter.
Wednesday, October 17, 2001