On this date in 2009, Olympiacos Piraeus returned to the biggest of basketball stages and started a long run of continued success with a 75-78 road win over Real Madrid in Game 4 of the best-of-five EuroLeague Playoffs. After using its homecourt advantage and capturing home wins in the first two games of the series, followed by a Game 3 loss in the Spanish capital, Olympiacos finished off the job to win the series 3-1 and book a ticket to Berlin, ending the Reds' decade-long EuroLeague Final Four drought.
Real Madrid took control in the second quarter. Kennedy Winston scored a transition layup to cap a Real run and give it a 35-26 lead and the hosts held a 41-33 edge at halftime. But Olympiacos started melting away the deficit and went up 59-60 early in the fourth. The score went back and forth with Real having a go-to guy in Louis Bullock, but Ioannis Bourousis and Zoran Erceg tied the score at 70-70 with a minute to go. Erceg, then, struck from downtown to give the Reds a 70-73 lead with 36 seconds remaining before free throws by Lynn Greer sealed the outcome.
Both teams struggled from long range, with Real making 5 of 18 triples, while Olympiacos hit 4 of 18. Despite Real holding a 38-29 rebounding advantage, the Reds used their inside game to shoot 24 for 37 (64.9%) on two-pointers compared to Real's 20-for-50 shooting (40%). Erceg was clutch, scoring all of his 7 points in the last 4 minutes, including the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute. Bourousis paced the winners with 25 points on 9-for-11 two-point shooting, taking over in the absence of injured center Nikola Vujcic. Greer added 12 points while Yotam Halperin had 10 for Olympiacos. For Real, Bullock finished with 19 points and Felipe Reyes collected 12 points plus 10 rebounds.
Even though it was the club's first trip to the Final Four in 10 years, Olympiacos getting there was not a surprise. It was a star-studded team, led by Theo Papaloukas who reached his seventh of a record eight consecutive Final Fours. Vujcic, who missed the game due to injury in Game 3, made it to the sixth of his seven career Final Fours. Josh Childress was another groundbreaking star as a forward who arrived to the Greek powerhouse as one of the best sixth men in the NBA, while Bourousis was an All-EuroLeague First Team center at age 26. Meanwhile, Milos Teodosic, who was the MVP a season later, was only in his second EuroLeague season and had a total of 56 points and 29 assists in 17 appearances that campaign. That season was also the end of the second stint with the Reds for Georgios Printezis, who would leave to join Unicaja Malaga for the next two seasons, before returning to Olympiacos in the summer of 2011 to become a true club legend.
Came to stay
Olympiacos went on to lose in the Final Four semifinals against archrival Panathinaikos, but advancing to the Final Four completed a long-awaited return to the greatest of stages for the proud club from Piraeus. After three years of getting stopped in the playoffs, Olympiacos finally got through and once it did the club refused to go away, remaining a perennial contender to this day. Olympiacos reached the Final Four six times in nine seasons between 2009 and 2017, including two titles (2012, 2013) and three more championship game appearances (2010, 2015, 2017).