Champs top Unicaja for crucial road win
With spots in Euroleague playoffs at stake, reigning two-time champion Olympiacos Piraeus never trailed on the road, handling Unicaja Malaga 63-80 in the Game of the Week on Thursday at Martin Carpena Arena. Olympiacos improved to 6-6 and at least a share of fourth place in Group E, while Unicaja dropped to 5-7 and sits in sixth place. The Reds took control and built big leads from the get-go, hitting 4 triples and building an early 5-20 advantage. Unicaja made runs, but never got closer than 5 point the rest of the way. After leading 34-41 at halftime, Olympiacos was quick to regain a double-digit cushion and increased it to 59-80 before the game was over. Vassilis Spanoulis and Matt Lojeski paced the winners, with reigning MVP Spanoulis hitting 4 triples and scoring 20 points, while Lojeski netted 18. Brent Petway scored 9, while Evangelos Mantzaris dished 9 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds for the visitors. Txemi Urtasun bagged 13 points for Unicaja, and Zoran Dragic and Vladimir Stimac had 10 apiece in defeat.
First quarter: Olympiacos pulls away with three-point barrage
Giorgi Shermadini started things with a pair of free throws for the visitors, and Fran Vazquez made a huge dunk in the lane to open the account for Unicaja. But Shermadini scored a layup, before back-to-back three-pointers from Ioannis Papapetrou and Spanoulis made it 2-10. Bryant Dunston's steal led to a Shermadini dunk on a breakaway, making it a 10-point affair. After a timeout by home coach Joan Plaza, Carlos Suarez hit his first three-pointer, but Dunston had a monster dunk, before Lojeski hit a three-pointer from the left corner and Spanoulis followed it with one from the right corner to make it 5-20. Zoran Dragic nailed another triple for Unicaja, and Spanoulis banked in a short jumper on the other end, but the hosts cut the deficit with tip-ins from Stimac and Jayson Granger, before a triple from Urtasun got them to 16-24. Lojeski added a layup to the Reds' tally, and after Ryan Toolson made a floater, Vasileios Kavvadas ended the first quarter with a layup and an 18-28 scoreline.
Second quarter: Suarez and Unicaja cut the deficit
The two teams traded close range baskets early in the second, with Lojeski and Kostas Sloukas scoring for the visitors, while Urtasun and Stimac made baskets for the hosts. A corner triple from Suarez cut it to 25-32, and after Lojeski drove the baseline for a big dunk, a jumper from Urtasun and a layup from Stimac got Unicaja within 29-34. Dunston scored a reverse layup, and Sloukas buried a corner triple for a 30-39 lead. Vazquez and Dragic cut the deficit once again, scoring from close range, before Brent Petway rounded out the scoring with a tip-in for a 34-41 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Lojeski and Spanoulis keep the visitors comfortably in front
A fastbreak dunk from Stimac got Unicaja rolling in the third quarter, but a pair of Olympiacos steals led to consecutive fast breaks, as Spanoulis, Mantzaris and Lojeski made it 36-47. Petway and Dragic traded three-pointers, before Spanoulis and Dragic traded quick layups. Lojeski sank a baseline jumper to make it 43-54, and with the offense running through Mantzaris, the margin went to 15 points with a tip-in from Petway and an easy layup from Lojeski. Urtasun scored 3 of 4 from the charity stripe, as Unicaja tried a zone defense which kept the visitors scoreless for two minutes before a layup from Cedric Simmons. After Toolson hit a long jumper, and Suarez made 2 free throws, Spanoulis knocked down a triple in the closing seconds of the third quarter for a 50-63 lead.
Fourth quarter: Champs cruise to victory
Urtasun sank a second chance three-pointer at the start of the fourth, but Spanoulis returned the favor from deep. Lojeski added another jumper to the tally, as the nerves started getting to the hosts. Vazquez made a dunk, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas had a layup, but Dunston made 3 of 4 from the line, before Papapetrou hit a triple and drove for a layup, making it 59-78. Petway scored on a fastbreak to break the 20-point barrier, before the hosts cut the final margin with free throws in the last minute of the game.
Thursday, March 27, 2014