Because his team did not win, Thursday might not endure as a night to remember for Vassilis Spanoulis, but that does not lessen the brilliance of a vintage performance by the EuroLeague's all-time scoring leader in his first game on the floor of Sibur Arena in St Petersburg.
The 37-year old Spanoulis and Olympiacos Piraeus came up short against Zenit St Petersburg, which held off all the rallies and charges the Reds put together, dominating the offensive boards after halftime to build a double-digit lead that lasted to the finish. It was not for lack of trying by Spanoulis, who put on an impressive 32 minutes and 25 seconds of basketball.
Spanoulis became the oldest player ever to score 30 or more points in a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game, finishing with 31 points by making 5 of 5 two-pointers and 5 of 7 threes while dishing 7 assists. His shots looked flawless, touching nothing but the bottom of the net. He opened up driving lanes with aggressive dribbling. He even banked in one of his trademark off-balance runners.
Those 31 points are the most Spanoulis has scored ever in a non-overtime EuroLeague game and the second-most in his illustrious 322-game career in the competition. He fell just 3 points shy of his career high of 34 points, set in October 2014 when Olympiacos downed Lithuanian side Neptunas Klaipeda on the road in overtime, 81-85. His 6-for-9 free throw shooting last night kept him from matching that career high.
But just like on that night in Klaipeda more than five years ago, Spanoulis again went to a new arena, before a crowd that had not seen him before, and delivered a gem.
His all-time high scoring total now sits at 4,218 points and he has 479 three-pointers made, closing in the milestone of 500 for his career. Olympiacos will need everything Spanoulis can give it, however, after taking a step back in a playoff race that will require even more than a legend's heroics for the Reds to rejoin.