What a difference two days can make. Olympiacos Piraeus went from a disastrous fourth quarter meltdown resulting in a heavy loss to a euphoric and historic first quarter that helped the team remain undefeated at home this season.
On Friday night Olympiacos played as if it was shot out of cannon in the opening frame against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, taking the first quarter 35-8 and using it to coast to a 90-73 victory and improve to 7-0 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium and 7-4 overall.
"Our performance in the first quarter was really good - at both ends. We set the tone that we were really decisive to win it," Olympiacos Head Coach Georgios Bartzokas said after the win over Maccabi.
The playcaller had quite a different viewpoint after his team’s loss on Wednesday at Anadolu Efes Istanbul, when the Reds tallied just three points in the fourth quarter of an 88-69 road defeat.
"The last quarter was a disaster for us. We stopped playing offensively and defensively," Bartzokas had said in Turkey two nights earlier.
In fact, those three points tied the all-time record for the fewest scored by any team in the fourth quarter of a EuroLeague game. Zalgiris Kaunas also netted just three points against Efes in Round 9 of the 2013-14 season, but ended up winning 65-63.
Two days later, being back at home seemed to have changed quite a bit for Bartzokas’ players.
Backed by its passionate crowd, Olympiacos blasted out of the blocks with Sasha Vezenkov scoring five points for a 7-0 lead, resulting in Maccabi Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos calling a timeout after just 73 seconds. The Reds just could not miss as Tyler Dorsey drained two three-pointers and Olympiacos made its first nine shots of the game. Kostas Papanikolaou added a triple of his own and the 13-0 run made it 24-6 after less than 6 minutes.
Ante Zizic stopped the run with two free throws for Maccabi, but the Olympiacos outburst just continued. Kostas Sloukas also hit a three-pointer to highlight another 13-0 surge and the gap was 35-8 with 1:55 minutes left in the first quarter.
Neither team would scored the rest of the period and history was made: the 27-point difference was the largest ever after the first quarter of a EuroLeague game. And it tied the record for the biggest difference in any quarter, matching the 39-12 second quarter margin for Kinder Virtus Bologna in its 113-70 victory over Adecco Estudiantes in the 2000-01 playoffs on February 1, 2001.
The 35 points scored, meanwhile, set a new Olympiacos club record for the most scored in the first quarter of a EuroLeague game. It also ranks tied for second for the most scored in any quarter by Olympiacos, accomplished three other times prior, most recently against FC Bayern Munich on January 17, 2020 in the fourth quarter of an 89-72 victory.
All of that just 48 hours after Olympiacos had made history in terms of futility. What a difference two days can make.