Olympiacos holds off Real, improves to 2-0
In a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague classic decided in the final minute, Olympiacos Piraeus held off Real Madrid 74-68 in a jubilant Peace and Friendship Stadium on Friday night. The win improved Olympiacos to 2-0, while Real dropped to 1-1. Neither team held a lead bigger than 6 points until Olympiacos used a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to open a 70-59 margin. Real answered and got within a single possession in the final minute, but the Reds held on thanks to a basket from Sasha Vezenkov who paced the hosts with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey finished with 12 points in victory. Nigel Williams-Goss scored 16 for Real, and Walter Tavares had 15 points and 6 rebounds.
The offenses were not clicking in the early going, and the teams traded baskets when they did score. Tavares, Adam Hanga and Guerschon Yabusele netted from close range for the visitors, while Tyler Dorsey sparked the Reds early. Vezenkov used a pair of offensive rebounds to add 5 points to Olympiacos's tally, and help make it 13-10 after 10 minutes. Sergio Llull hit a transition triple to open the second quarter, but the Reds answered with a 6-0 run capped by a mid-range jumper from Kostas Sloukas. Giannoulis Larentzakis hit the first three-pointer for the hosts, but Williams-Goss scored twice at the other end to keep Real close. Both offenses picked up as the teams kept trading punches. Sloukas had a long jumper and Georgios Printezis delivered his trademark floater at one end, but dunks from Tavares and Vincent Poirier got Real within a single point, 28-27, and Williams-Goss scored 5 points to put the visitors up 30-32. Olympiacos regained the lead with a corner triple from Shaquielle McKissic, but Thomas Heurtel's baseline jumper gave Real a 35-36 halftime lead.
Tavares had a three-point play to extend it to 37-41 early in the second half, but Kostas Papanikolaou answered with a triple. After Papanikolaou and Yabusele traded threes, Hanga put Real up 40-45. But Vezenkov and Sloukas combined to scored the next 6 points, all from close range, to restore the hosts' lead, and Dorsey's long-range dagger made it 54-52 after three quarters. Tavares opened the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk, but Vezenkov and Larentzakis hit back-to-back triples before a three-point play from Hassan Martin made it 65-56. A three-pointer from Dorsey then opened up the first double-digit lead of the night, and his jumper made it 70-59 with under 4 minutes to go. The hosts kept Real at bay with its defense, allowing just 4 points in the next two minutes, before Tavares dunked and Heurtel made a second-chance triple with 48 seconds left that got the visitors within 71-68. But Vezenkov scored at the other end, and the Reds prevailed.
Olympiacos did not shine from long range, making only 8 of 27 shots, but three-point shooting made all the difference in this contest. Real Madrid finished the game 3-for-24, while Olympiacos hit that many triples in a span of two and a half minutes in the fourth quarter alone, turning a 56-56 tie into a 68-58 lead.
Sasha Vezenkov was the only player in the game who played more than 30 minutes, and it paid off waiting for him despite him shooting 1-for-7 from long range. Vezenkov hit a key triple, sparking a 12-2 fourth-quarter run that gave Olympiacos a double-digit advantage, and the hosts never relinquished the lead after that.
Olympiacos has won its first two games of the season for the first time in three years. In addition, the club has won its first two home games for the first time since October 2017. It is also the Reds' first win over Real since November 2018, a long wait for an even rivalry between two teams who have now met 33 times this century with Real holding an 18-15 edge.
Spanoulis in attendance
Recently retired Olympiacos and EuroLeague legend Vassilis Spanoulis was in attendance for this game, getting a huge ovation from the home crowd.
Friday, October 8, 2021