Jankunas lifts Zalgiris past Olympiacos in OT
In an overtime thriller, Zalgiris Kaunas gave the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs map a major twist by topping host Olympiacos Piraeus 85-86 on Friday. Zalgiris, which was going to finish in sixth place no matter what, improved to 18-12. but mathematically sent Real Madrid to fifth place and gave Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens home-court advantage in its upcoming best-of-five series. Olympiacos finished the regular season with a 19-11 record and won't know until the end of Round 30 whether that's good for third or fourth place, which will determine its playoff opponent, Zalgiris or Madrid. Brandon Davies led the winners with 18 points. Paulius Jankunas added 15, including the game-winning tip-in with 2.9 seconds left. Edgaras Ulanovas had 11 for Zalgiris. Vassilis Spanoulis led Olympiacos with 16 points. Nikola Milutinov added 15 while Brian Roberts had 12 for the hosts. Spanoulis shined early and got help from Hollis Thompson for a 25-10 Olympiacos lead after 10 minutes. Davies and Aaron White gave Zalgiris hope, but Janis Strelnieks and Ioannis Papapetrou helped Olympiacos stay up 43-31 at halftime. Edgaras Ulanovas, Beno Udrih and Vasilije Micic fueled a 0-15 run before Arturas Milaknis gave Zalgiris its first lead, 71-74, with over 3 minutes left. It would take a dunk by Kyle Wiltjer to let Olympiacos force overtime, 80-80, and in the extra period, his put-back layup had the Reds up 85-84, with 8.6 seconds left. But Jankunas scored at the other end and Spanoulis missed from downtown in the game's final possession.
Spanoulis got Olympiacos going with a driving layup and Thompson added a jumper for a 4-0 lead. Jankunas scored down low but a three-point play by Spanoulis and a triple by Roberts boosted the Reds' lead to 10-2. Kevin Pangos and Jankunas stepped up for Zalgiris but Thompson nailed a corner jumper and Spanoulis added an off-balance basket for a 15-6 Olympiacos edge. Kyle Wiltjer and Antanas Kavaliauskas traded baskets and consecutive layups before Milutinov, Thompson and Strelnieks made it a 15-point lead again, 23-8. A layup by Jankunas and a jumper by Thompson fixed the score at 25-10 after 10 minutes. Axel Toupane hit a jumper early in the second quarter and Davies followed a put-back layup with a three-point play to keep Zalgiris within 28-18. Strelnieks hit a jumper but White answered with consecutive alley-oop baskets and Ulanovas dunked off a steal to get Zalgiris within 32-25. Spanoulis hit a jumper before three-pointers by Papapetrou, Strelnieks and Bobby Brown allowed Olympiacos to restore a 43-31 margin at halftime.
Toupane took over with a driving layup and a dunk after the break but Milutinov scored down low and Roberts followed a three-point play with a bomb from downtown for a 51-35 Olympiacos margin. Ulanovas and Papapetrou traded triples but a layup-plus-free throw by Micic and a jumper by Davies kept the guests within 57-43. Spanoulis hit free throws but a three-pointer by Ulanovas sparked a 0-13 run in which Udrih had 4 points and Micic added a coast-to-coast layup to bring Zalgiris back to life, 59-56, after 30 minutes. Udrih scored again early in the fourth quarter but Vangelis Mantzaris stepped up with a layup and free throws for a 63-59 score. Jankunas followed a jumper with a three-point play and Davies hit 5 of 6 free throws as Zalgiris tied the game, 69-69, with more than 4 minutes left. Spanoulis scored in penetration but free throws by Davies and a three-pointer by Arturas Milaknis gave Zalgiris its first lead, 71-74. Ulanovas bettered Milutinov's jumper with a three-point play but Milutinov hit 3 of 4 foul shots to make it a one-point game, 76-77, with a minute left. Milaknis sank a big three-pointer but a dunk by Milutinov kept Olympiacos within 78-80 with 42.7 seconds left. After a Zalgiris turnover, a dunk by Wiltjer tied the game, 80-80, with 5.2 seconds remaining. Jankunas had a chance to win it in regulation but missed at the buzzer.
Milaknis scored in penetration early in the extra period, as Olympiacos went scoreless for more than 3 minutes. Meanwhile, free throws by Davies gave Zalgiris an 80-84 edge. Milutinov hit free throws and Brown split attempts, but Wiltjer grabbed the offensive rebound and scored for an 85-84 Olympiacos edge with 8.6 seconds to go. Ulanovas missed a floater but a tip-in by Jankunas put Zalgiris ahead, 85-86, with 2.9 seconds left. Spanoulis had a chance to win it from downtown at the buzzer, but his shot went in and out, sending the victory back to Kaunas.
Friday, April 6, 2018