On a dramatic night at Peace and Friendship Stadium three years ago, Olympiacos Piraeus held off visiting Anadolu Efes Istanbul 87-78 in the decisive Game 5 of their best-of-five series EuroLeague Playoff series. Led by legends Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis, this win completed the Reds' rally from 1-2 down in the series to clinch their sixth EuroLeague Final Four berth in nine years.
Game 5 experience
This was the second time Olympiacos and Efes clashed in a EuroLeague Playoff series and the second one that the Reds clinched in a decisive fifth game. The two teams previously met in the 2013 playoffs when Olympiacos also won the series 3-2. It also marked the third time in five years Olympiacos played a series that went the maximum five games. The Reds beat Efes in Game 5 in 2013, but lost to Real Madrid in 2014. It also marked the end of a remarkable run for Olympiacos, which between 2009 and 2017 reached the playoffs eight times and won six of those series.
On this early May night, Olympiacos did something it had never done before, rally from 1-2 down to take a best-of-five series. Olympiacos had lost Games 2 and 3, but bounced back with a 62-74 Game 4 win in Istanbul, which set up this Game 5. To this day, there have been 10 best-of-five EuroLeague Playoff series that went to a decisive game since the format was introduced in 2005 and all have been won by the home team. This was the fifth - and final - time that a team rallied after being down 1-2.
Efes led 37-41 at halftime, but Olympiacos started the second half on a 9-0 run and never trailed again. A three-pointer from Ioannis Papapetrou opened a 62-53 advantage late in the third, however, Efes never quit. The visitors cut the margin to 76-72 with 3 minutes left. Then Georgios Printezis scored 5 points, including a three-pointer to put the game and series on ice. Vassilis Spanoulis led the way with his playoff career-high at the time of 22 points and also dished 6 assists. Printezis added 14 points, Erick Green had 10 points and Khem Birch collected 9 points plus 11 rebounds for winners. Efes had six scorers in double-digits with Cedi Osman leading the team with 11 points. Tyler Honeycutt had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Thomas Heurtel, Derrick Brown, Jayson Granger and DeShaun Thomas also scored 10 points apiece.
What happened next
After eliminating the team from Istanbul in the playoffs, Olympiacos returned to the same city for the 2017 Final Four. In the semifinals, Olympiacos rallied late to edge CSKA Moscow 78-82 and reach its fifth championship game appearance in eight years. However, the Reds fell against Fenerbahce Istanbul 80-64 to finish as the runner-up for the third time this century. The Reds won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, while losing in the championship games in 2009, 2015 and 2017. Efes finally returned to the Final Four last season and reached its first championship game, which it lost to CSKA Moscow.