By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
After a mediocre first quarter, Hassan Martin got to work and Olympiacos was all business for the next two periods against Zalgiris Kaunas. However, the guests escaped with the 68-67 win over the Reds in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague opener.
Rokas Jokubaitis with two made free throws just three seconds before the final buzzer was the hero of the night, as Zalgiris came back with a 21-9 partial score in the last period to get the win. In total, he scored 12 points.
“The key to it was that we kept them to just 9 points in the fourth quarter, which was super important at the defensive end”, said rookie EuroLeague coach Martin Schiller. “We are very happy and very grateful for the win.”
Olympiacos dominated with a total 40-24 score the second and third quarters, while Martin scored 12 points on 6/6 FG, proving that he can be the heir of the proud Olympiacos tradition of undersized big men who can finish the pick-and-roll action. However, he ended up being the only scorer in double digits for the hosts.
“We had to re-focus and concentrate in the second half. In the third quarter, we were down 11 or 12 points and in the fourth quarter we came with double energy and everyone on the bench was pushing us”, added Jokubaitis. “It’s an amazing feeling, this comeback win, amazing emotions.”
With three seconds left on the clock, Sloukas had the chance to take one last shot, but Nigel Hayes played great defense, and the Greek guard couldn’t even get the ball out of his hands as the game ended.
Zalgiris with a 7-2 run cut the lead to six points (60-54) at the start of the last quarter and ultimately stole the game. Marius Grigonis with 15 points was the top scorer of the winning side and Joffrey Lauvergne added 12.
Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas admitted that the fourth quarter was a disaster for his team: “It was a painful loss in the first game of the season and we had a really poor performance in the fourth quarter. We shot 3 of 18 in the quarter, including 0 of 8 on three-pointers. At the same time, we gave them second chances with a lot of offensive rebounds to find confidence. At our level and leading by 11 points, we just need to finish the game smart and today we were not smart. It’s just the beginning of the season. We need to learn from this loss.”