Olympiacos Piraeus enters 2021 and the second half of the regular season with an 8-8 record. It comes into a Round 18 clash against FC Bayern Munich looking to build on a pair of good shooting performances, including in a huge road win over Khimki Moscow Region, which snapped the Reds' three-game losing streak last week.
Instrumental in those performances was forward Sasha Vezenkov, who is one of the hottest scorers and most productive players in the EuroLeague in recent weeks. Vezenkov is averaging 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds for the season, but he drastically improved on those numbers in the second half of December.
Vezenkov has scored nearly as many total points over the last four games (57) as he has over his first 11 appearances (77). He especially shined the past two weeks.
Vezenkov was Olympiacos's top scorer with 17 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting in an 84-77 loss at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in Round 16. He followed it up a week later with 19 points on 3-for-6 three-point shooting plus 6 rebounds in the 88-105 win over Khimki. Only three players have scored more points over the last two rounds than Vezenkov and he ranks third in average PIR (23.5) over those same two games.
The Olympiacos forward first caught fire in Round 14, when he had 14 points plus 7 rebounds in a loss against Valencia. He then had 7 points plus 6 rebounds in another home loss, against Real Madrid. Vezenkov has been worth 14.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game since Round 14 for an average PIR of 16.0. His total PIR of 80 is sixth-best in the EuroLeague over the last four games.
Vezenkov excelled at shooting the ball in those games. He is a combined 10 for 18 (55.6%) from three-point range in the last four games and made 7 of 10 (70%) two-point attempts over that same span. Before Round 14, Vezenkov was shooting 40.6% on two-pointers and 38.7% on threes.
Last week, his 19 points and 5 triples made helped the Reds score more than 100 points in a non-overtime game for the first time in just over seven years and tie the club record for most points scored in a EuroLeague road game this century. The Reds also tied their club record with 16 three-pointers, just a week after they had scored 15 triples at Fenerbahce.
The Reds enter Round 18 one win out of eighth place in the standings and Vezenkov is poised to help Olympiacos keep its hot-shooting going on Friday in an important game against fourth-place Bayern.