By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympiacos looks “addicted” to having its games decided in the very last seconds. After the victory over Bayern Munich in a game that was decided in the last play, Olympiacos got its third win in a row by beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 89 – 87 on the road in overtime to sweep the “Yellows” 2-0 in the EuroLeague regular season.
Kostas Sloukas registered a double-double of 21 points (including the game-tying free throws at the end of regulation) and 11 assists while Giannoulis Larentzakis came up big for Olympiacos in overtime and dropped a EuroLeague career-high 13 points in the process.
“I think in the second half we scored crucial baskets,” Sloukas said. “We played better defense and in crucial moments we made good decisions. We played against a really good team, Maccabi for us is one more final. We are very proud that we won this game.” Sloukas and Olympiacos were without forward Kostas Papanikolaou and swingman Aaron Harrison.
Larentzakis emerged as an unlikely hero for the Reds, especially in the extra period. After Maccabi went up 79 – 78, he was the one to score five straight points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer for the 81 – 83 with 1:31 to play. Sasha Vezenkov then dropped a triple of his own to hand his team a five-point lead.
Maccabi answered with four straight points and Larentzakis won the foul to hit 2-2 from the line for the 85 – 88 with 10 seconds to play. Scottie Wilbekin then won a shooting foul by Sloukas on a 3-point attempt from half court, only to make two of his free throws. These were the last points Maccabi scored in the game since after one free throw by Larentzakis, Elijah Bryant missed his “Hail Mary” shot to win the match.
Scottie Wilbekin finished with 25 points but shot 3-12 3-pointers for Maccabi. Elijah Bryant had 15 points plus six rebounds. The hosts were up 40 – 33 at halftime but Olympiacos greatly improved its defense to take the lead for the first time in the third period. The match remained tight with Maccabi going up 71 – 67 with a minute to play in regulation.
“I think it was a hard-fought game,” Maccabi center Othello Hunter said. “Guys didn’t give up and we played hard. We could have won it. Some plays I didn’t agree with, but at the end of the day, we kept fighting and had a chance to win. We just didn’t come through.”
Wilbekin and Dorsey went 1-2 each from the free throw line in the last minute when Olympiacos decided to foul with 24 seconds to play and the game tied at 71 – 71. Sloukas won a foul by Hunter on a layup attempt with two seconds remaining to win the fouls that sent the game to overtime.
Responding well to the opponent’s game
Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas went on to analyze how his team made the right calls in the crucial parts of the match on both ends of the floor.
“First of all, we were much, much better in all decisive situations, in situations that Maccabi wanted to play, especially with Wilbekin and the very aggressive guards that they have,” Bartzokas said. “Except for one or two tactical mistakes that we made – we gave Wilbekin, if I remember well, two easy shots – we were very solid on this. Then on offense, there were two parts, one when Othello Hunter is in the lineup, Maccabi plays switches on defense and we have to play immediately against these situations. And the other when all the other bigs are playing, it is a completely different Maccabi team, defensively. I think that in the second half and the overtime, we read this very well and we won.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball