By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
K.C. Rivers had an epic game with a 27 points season-high, leading Panathinaikos to 77 – 67 road victory over Olympiacos in knockout match for the Greek Cup semifinals.
This is the 13th consecutive time that the Greens will play in the competition’s final, and the third time in a row that they eliminated their arch-rival in the process.
Apart from Rivers, Kenny Gabriel delivered his best performance since he arrived to his new team, dropping 14 points and grabbing 6 rebounds while Nick Calathes added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
For Olympiacos, Vangelis Mantzaris finished with 15 points and Giorgos Printezis with 13.
Panathinaikos held an advantage for the majority of the match but it was particularly in the second half that performed decisively better than its opponents. With the score 28 – 29 at the break, they first made it 34 – 40 thanks to consecutive baskets by Chris Singleton (11 points, 9 rebounds) and despite the Reds’ counterattack with Vassilis Spanoulis (7 points, 5 turnovers) they closed the third period 45 – 52 thanks to a buzzer beater from downtown, courtesy of Mike James (5 points).
Then in the fourth quarter, the guests really got their engines running, especially from downtown, sinking one three-pointer after the other to expand their lead more and more. Olympiacos’ efforts were poor, particularly on the defensive end, with many players falling short on 1 on 1 situations.
Calathes was the one to make it 55 – 64 with 5 minutes to go and then Rivers had 4 points in a row for the 58 – 70 with 2:22 to go. The hosts rallied a bit to cut their deficit to 5, 65 – 70 but and then 65 – 70 with 43 seconds left but a foul called in an attempt to steal the ball mid-court, doomed them while sealing the victory of their opponents.