Olympiacos beats Zalgiris with a second-half metamorphosis

2021-10-15T21:44:23+00:00 2021-10-16T00:31:13+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

15/Oct/21 21:44

Eurohoops.net

Olympiacos was the superior force in the second half.

By Eurohoops team/ info@eurohoops.net

After trailing for the first 23 minutes, Olympiacos Piraeus used a third-quarter surge to defeat Zalgiris Kaunas 83 – 68 at home aand return to wins after the overtime loss to Barcelona two days ago.

While Olympiacos improved to 3-1, Zalgiris remains one of the three winless teams in the EuroLeague, together with Bayern Munich and reigning champion Anadolu Efes.

Kostas Sloukas led a balanced offensive effort by Olympiacos with 17 points and five assists. He heard the crowd at Peace and Friendship arena chanting his name when he was substituted with a couple minutes remaining and after the Reds had secured the win by taking a 20-point lead.

“Our reaction was really good because Zalgiris came here and played aggressively,” Sloukas said. “We came back after a really bad start for us – they hit big shots. We found our rhythm and played our game. I have the feeling that with our fans we can beat anybody. This is so important.”

Giannoulis Larentzakis had 13 points overall, including eight in the second period when Olympiacos began its comeback. Sasha Vezenkov scored all of his 12 points in the third period to rally Olympiacos for a 27 – 10 counterattack thanks to which the hosts took a 63 – 49 lead and established their hold for the rest of the match. Kostas Papanikolaou added 10 points.

Despite the last-minute absences of guard Janis Strelnieks and forward Paulius Jankunas, Zalgiris was the team that began the game in a dominant fashion, going as far as taking a 14-point lead. Arturas Milaknis bombarded at will from the perimeter during the first half with 14 points but went completely cold after the break while Emmanuel Mudiay had nine points and three assists when his team went up 17 – 31.

The former NBAer finished with 19 points in his best performance yet with the Zalgiris jersey.

“I’mm very disappointed how we lost the game,” Zalgiris coach Jure Zdovc said. “We had a good start, we had good minutes. But in the second half we showed the complete opposite: effort, approach, everything. We lost control on offense. We stopped playing defense. We didn’t have any communication and we collapsed. Congratulations to Olympiacos. We have a lot of work to do. We are not looking for excuses. We’ll try next week to get our first win.”

30 strong minutes

Olympiacos overcame a 14-point deficit before ultimately getting a comfortable win and coach Giorgos Bartzokas was satisfied with how his player performed following the first period.

“I want to congratulate our fans and players,” Bartzokas said. “The fans really created a warm atmosphere. And the players had a solid performance for three quarters. It started for us in the second quarter. It was good to be only losing by three points after the first half with the way we approached the game in the first quarter. I tried to tell the players there are no easy games if you are too loose and don’t have any energy, if you don’t play with physicality. It was good that I had a chance to limit the minutes of some players after such a demanding game against FC Barcelona two days ago.”