The lights didn't come on until an hour after the scheduled tipoff, but once they did, Olimpiacos put out those of visiting Idea Slask Wroclaw slowly but surely in a 78-71 Group C decision on Thursday in Athens. Christos Harissis led the charge for the Reds from the outset and finished with a floor-high 22 points. Nenad Markovic added 16 points, DeMarco Johnson 15 and 9 rebounds, and Maurice Evand 14 points as Olympiacos stayed in foruth place at 4-4, tied with Virtus Bologna. Idea Slask which came back from almost 20 down to trail by just 2 in the final minute, but a big offensive rebound by Johnson ended the danger for Olympiacos. Dominik Tomczyk led the guests with 16 points, while Andrius Giedraitis was good for 14 and Aleksandar Koul 12. Idea got in trouble allowing Olympiacos 11 offensive rebounds, including 6 by Johnson, while coughing up 16 turnovers to the Reds' defense.
The game was scheduled to start at 21:00 local time, but that was not possible, but suddenly, 25 minutes before tipoff, there was no light at the Koridallos court! According the administration and the technical staff of the arena, the reason was the problem that suddenly happened to the electric generator that provides the stream. Olympiakos asked for help from the Greek Public Electric Company, but unfortunately, its employees are on strike, which caused more of a delay. Finally the problem was solved and the game started one hour late.
Tomczyk scored the first basket of the game, one of three points, but Olympiakos didn't let the Polish team to keep the lead for long. Harissis sank his own three-pointer to tie the game 7-7 and then Olympiakos started to dominate. Alvin Jones, the fourth best player in blocks in NCAA history (behind Tim Duncan, Ralph Sampson and Tree Rollins) made two outstanding blocks for Idea Slask, but Olympiacos didn't lose its control. When Harissis hit his third three-pointer, Olympiacos closed the first period,7 points ahead, 19-12.
To start the second period, the Reds continued playing solid defense with double teams in the low post that denied Slask any easy drives. The champions of Poland tried to be more competitive by using a 2-3 zone defense, but nothing could stop Olympiacos on offense. Markovic hit a three-pointer to open the margin to 15 points, 27-12, and then Slask reacted with a 2-9 run that cut the margin to 29-21. But Olympiacos came up big to lead once again by 15, 37-22, thanks to 4 for 6 three-pointers made by Harissis, who then committed his third personal foul, as did Jones of Slask. At the end of the first half, the Olympiacos lead was 11 points, 43-32.
Olympiakos continued to dominate the game and to give its fans a lot of joy. After 23 minutes, Jones had his fourth foul and Olympiakos a lead of 18 points, 52-34. Slask turned again to a zone defense, which allowed the Polish team to make an 11-1 run and to cut the margin to its closest in a long while, 53-45. But Markovic responded with 5 fast points for 58-47 and at the end of the third quarter, Olympiakos was 14 points ahead again, 61-47.
But, never saying never, Slask came up big and gave itself a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Staying in their zone and getting the ball to Tomczyk, Giedraitis and especially Koul, the visitors managed to come back in spectacular fashion. First, Slask drew to within 68-60 after 35 minutes, and then to within 72-70, thanks to a big steal by Giedraitis with 41 seconds left. Giedraitis was fouled and made the score 72-70 from the line. Then Juan Antonio Morales missed a shot, but Demarco Johnson grabbed the rebound and put it back for 74-70 with 22 seconds left. Giedraitis was fouled, but he missed 1 fo 2 free throws, then Markovic scored both of his to seal the victory for the Reds.
Thursday, December 12, 2002