Olympiacos stays alive with third straight win
Olympiacos Piraeus kept its slim playoffs hopes alive by using a big fourth-quarter run to capture an 80-84 victory over ALBA Berlin on the road. Sasha Vezenkov scored a career-high 31 points for Olympiacos, which went on a 5-16 run to start the final frame to wrestle away control of the game. Kostas Sloukas chipped in 14 points as the only other player in double figures in helping Olympiacos grab its third straight win to improve to 14-16. ALBA saw its two-game winning streak snapped to fall to 11-19 despite 14 points and 7 assists from Peyton Siva. Ben Lammers added 13 points and Luke Sikma paired 11 points with 10 rebounds in the loss.
ALBA took the lead on the first possession on Lammers’s alley-oop slam. The hosts struggled to deal with Octavius Ellis early as he scored twice and Vezenkov drained a three-pointer for a 2-7 lead. ALBA committed 4 early turnovers before Marcus Eriksson got on the scoreboard. Siva followed with 2 three-pointers to pull ahead 12-9. Johannes Thiemann scored twice to make it 18-13. Olympiacos got another triple from Vezenkov and trailed 18-16 after 10 minutes. After Vezenkov’s free throws to start the second quarter evened the game, Thiemann and Jayson Granger hit back-to-back three-pointers and the hosts led 24-18. ALBA pushed the margin to 29-22 resulting in an Olympiacos timeout. The Reds followed with a Vassilis Spanoulis three-pointer to start a 0-7 surge. Giannoulis Larentzakis added a triple and Olympiacos reclaimed the lead, 31-32. Sikma followed with 4 points to help ALBA move ahead 37-32. Siva scored the final 5 points of the half as ALBA went into the break up 42-37.
Shaquielle McKissic opened the second half with a three-pointer and two Georgios Printezis scores put the guests up 42-44. Sikma finally got ALBA on the board after more than 2 minutes with a three-pointer which started a back-and-forth quarter - one which also went up and down without many stoppages of play. Lammers and Eriksson hit back-to-back triples and ALBA was up 53-49 only to see a Sloukas three-pointer and Vezenkov score make it 53-54. Niels Giffey countered with two scores and ALBA led 60-56. A Vezenkov triple started a 0-6 answer and Olympiacos led 60-62 with the game even at 62-62 after 30 minutes.
Olympiacos came out strong in the final frame with a Vezenkov three-point play and a Sloukas three-pointer to go up 62-68. Simone Fontecchio managed a three-point play, but Vezenkov and Larentzakis both hit triples and the advantage was 65-74. Slokas added another from deep and the margin was double figures for the first time, 67-77 with 5 minutes to play - resulting in an ALBA timeout. Larentzakis added a free throw and the gap grew to 67-78. ALBA made things interesting with a 7-0 run including a Fontecchio layup after a Spanoulis turnover to pull within 74-78 with 98 seconds to play. An Eriksson floater with 34 seconds trimmed it to 78-79. Vezenkov delivered the dagger with a three-pointer with 15 seconds to play and he iced the win with two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining.
Bounce back for Sloukas
Kostas Sloukas had a strong bounce back from scoring a season-low 2 points against Zenit St Petersburg last week. The Olympiacos leader collected 14 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in the win.
Road finally friendly again for the Reds
Olympiacos improved to 7-1 all-time against ALBA, including a 4-0 record in the German capital. The road victory was important after the Reds had lost their previous four games away from home. Olympiacos had amassed a 7-3 record in away games before that.
Olympiacos nailed 14 of 30 three-pointers (46.7%), led by Vezenkov and Sloukas, who combined for 10-of-13 shooting from long range. ALBA connected on just 28.1% shooting on three-pointers.
ALBA will head back on the road next week when it travels to Spain to face FC Barcelona on Friday, March 26. Olympiacos returns home to host Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul the same evening.
Thursday, March 18, 2021