Tau Ceramica closed its Euroleague season with an 87-82 victory over Olympiacos at home in Vitoria, Spain on Wednesday. The victory left Tau second in the final Group D standings at 4-2, behind Final Four-bound CSKA, which was 5-1. Olympiacos fell to 1-5 and last place in the group as Cibona handed CSKA its first loss in Zagreb to go 2-4. Tau was led by Kornel David, who finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Arvydas Macijauskas added 17 points, including 4 of 5 three-pointers, while Luis Scola chipped in 16. Panagiotis Liadelis finished another high-scoring season with 29 points for Olympiacos, including 11 perfect free throws. Ruben Wolkowysky added 14 points and Goran Jurak 10 for the Reds.
Fernando Buesa Arena was filled to more than a half of its capacity despite the fact that neither team had any chances left for the Final Four. Olympiacos took advantage by rushing to a 0-9 lead in 2 mnutes, expliting the hosts' lack of concentration with quick baskets by Liadelis and Gorenc. That forced a first Tau tiemout, but Olympiacos maintained its difference remained midway through the first period, until Macijauskas took the floor and sparked Tau with a pair of three-pointers. The hosts kept reducing the gap from there until Kornel David capped the comeback with a triple to end the first quarter with Tau now ahead 25-21.
Tau kept basing its game on its backcourt, with Macijauskas as the best weapon. Olympiacos played a zone defense as Andres Nocioni entered the court for the first time after 17 minutes. Although Liadelis kept scoring and answering Macijauskas's outside baskets, Olympiacos was unable to get closer. Tau amassed a 9 points lead at 47-38 after Pablo Prigioni drilled a three from 7 meters at minte 19, that was followed by a layup by Kornel David to increase the gap to 11 points. The bad new for the hosts was that Andrew Betts comitted his fifth foul right after that, forcing him to face the bench for the rest of the game. A buzzer beater three pointer by Nocioni closed the first half with Tau leading at 52-41.
The second half had a strange beginning. Both benches were punished with a couple of technical fouls that raised the temperature a little bit. Things got worse as some players of both teams started to commit hard fouls. That led to another technical foul, this time for Gorenc, midway through the third period. Meanwhile Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola and David provided consistent shooting to put Tau ahead by 14 points after 27 minutes at 71-57. An Olympiacos timeout didn't change anything as the hosts closed the quarter leading by 75-62.
Both squads looked tired while scoring only 4 points apiece in the first half of the last quarter. Tau had to put Nocioni at power forward because Andrew Betts fouled out and backup center Tiago Splitter is injured. That solution didn't last, however, as Nocioni also picked up his fifth foul. From that point to the end, Liadelis and Ruben Wolkowyski took over and reduced the difference to only 6 points, at 86-80, with less than a minute to go. But that wasn't time enough for Olympiacos to finish the comeback. A free throw by Sergi Vidal, followed by a layup from Wolkowyski, closed the score at 87-82.
Wednesday, April 7, 2004