Olympiacos edged Tau Ceramica 73-70
Olympiacos bounced back from a loss in its Top 16 opener by edging Tau Ceramica 73-70 on Thursday night at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, Greece. In a tough game that came down to foul shooting, Olympiacos stayed a step ahead of Tau by making 5 of 6 free throws in the final 35 seconds to hold on. The Reds ended Tau's six-game Euroleague winning streak and the two are now tied at 1-1 in Group E. Lynn Greer paced the Reds with 21 points and Ioannis Bourousis recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds to help his team win the battle of the boards 36-27. Yotam Halperin added 10 points for the home team. Rakocevic led Tau with 23 points, Mirza Teletovic had 14 and Pete Mickeal 11 in defeat. A 10-0 early fourth-quarter run in which Greer scored 6 points and Bourousis made a huge block spelled the turning point in what had been consistent leads for Tau up to that point.
Olympiacos got off to a good 7-2 start thanks to baskets coming from Bourousis, Halperin and Greer as the Reds alternated between penetrating and shooting from the perimeter. Soon, however, Tau found a three-pointer by Teletovic and easy points from Will McDonald to tie at 7-7. The guests caused more trouble to Olympiacos on the backboards as they soon gathered a bunch of offensive rebounds. Olympiacos stayed ahead, however, as Halperin assisted an easy Bouroussis dunk and Nikola Vujcic added a layup as the Reds big men made it 13-10. Teletovic remained hot from three-point distance, with his next triple good for a 13-13 tie. When Rakocevic fired in his own first downtown strike, Tau was ahead for the first time, 13-16. The visitors seized control of the rhythm now as Rakocevic drove for a basket and Teletovic buried consecutive triples to make it 16-24. Teletovic had made 4 of 5 so far from the arc and had 14 points of Tau's 18-26 advantage after one quarter.
Tau increased its difference to start the second quarter, and when Pete Mickeal finished a basket-plus-free throw combo, Tau was ahead 20-31 and Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis needed a timeout. The Reds then fed the ball to Sofoklis Schortsianitis, who cut it to 26-33. Tau was now having a hard time to get connected now as Schortsianitis dished to Halperin for a corner triple at 29-33. However, Rakocevic did not miss from the free-throw line and nailed a good three-pointer to restore a big advantage, 29-38, for the guests. Papaloukas penetrated for 33-40, but Rakocevic was again there for Tau to make it 33-42. Bouroussis was now bearing offensive responsibility for Olympiacos, dunking with force. Mickeal put back an offensive rebound as the teams went to the lockers for halftime with Tau up 36-44.
Rakocevic nailed a difficult three-pointer to open the second half. Vujcic answered inside as easy shots became hard to find. Mickeal exchanged his pair of baskets for one each by Bouroussis and Vujcic to keep Tau in front 43-51. Olympiacos was now finding easier ways to the basket as Printezis connected with a layup for 47-53. Again Mickeal created his own shot to answer back, but Greer exlpoded for 5 straight points on a layup and three-pointer combination to trim the difference to 52-55 and get the crowd excited. Bouroussis and Greer extended Olympiacos' run to 9-0 to bring the Reds ahead at 56-55. Vlado Ilievski came in off the bench to save the quarter's last word with a three-pointer to make it 56-58 in favor of Tau after 30 minutes.
Ilievski found a layup at 56-60 to open the final quarter, but Greer copied him before Printezis drove for a basket-plus-free throw to help Olympiacos sail in front, 61-60. The Reds' morale was now sky-high. Bouroussis blocked a shot by Rakocevic that sent Greer for a fastbreak layup at 63-60. After a Tau timeout, the visitors reached their fifth consecutive scoreless minute as Greer scored again, increasing the Olympiacos run to 10-0 and the lead to 66-60. Rakocevic stepped up for a huge layup to revive Tau, and then Ilievski popped in a jumper to make it 66-64. Vujcic connected for 68-64 before both teams shared some bad decisions. Rakocevic fired in a desicive triple to make it a one-point game, 68-67, with 35 seconds to the buzzer. Greer and Rakocevic exchanged free throws at 70-69. Jannero Pargo made his 2 attempts next, but Pablo Prigioni went only 1-for-2, so Olympiacos had a 72-70 lead and possession with 10 seconds remaining. Greer made it 73-70 at the line, and as Tau failed to create a shot from the three-point range in the last 9 seconds, the Reds celebrated their first Top 16 win.
Thursday, February 5, 2009