By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
With a sold-out crowd cheering, Vassilis Spanoulis formally becoming a EuroLeague legend, and stellar defensive performance, Olympiacos got the 71-54 win over Monaco and got the 1-0 in their playoffs series.
Shaquielle McKissic and Giorgos Printezis with 12 points each were the top scorers, Thomas Walkup added 11 points and four steals, while Kostas Sloukas and Sasa Vezekov added 10 points each.
Still, defense was the name of the game with Monaco scoring just 21 points in the second and third periods combined. The 54 total points of the losing side was a season-low and the 20 turnovers a season-high.
As Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas said: “I think our defense was really solid the whole game. [Thomas] Walkup did an excellent job, but as a team, we protected our basket. We didn’t allow transitions or the two-point shots they are very strong at. They usually score a lot of shots inside the box. So, we did a great job. It’s just the first game of the series. Next game, I would like to avoid a little the turnovers we made and just be a little bit more patient because we were rushing, trying to finish the game in the first quarter. This is always like this; you need to be patient.”
After a good start by Sasha Obradovic‘s team (15-8) in the first quarter, Olympiacos turned things around and led by 11 (33-22). The guests trailed by seven at halftime (33-26), made it a five-point game (35-30), and then Thomas Walkup appeared on offense.
With a three, a breakaway dunk, a mid-range shot, and a lay-up Walkup pushed the lead to 14 (44-30) while being the primary defender against Mike James and keeping him to seven points in his first 23 minutes of action.
The biggest lead for Olympiacos was 16 points (50-34) with the score being 50-36 at the end of the third. Monaco tried to keep up, but the hosts kept their lead in double digits until the end of the game.
Mike James with 10 points was the top scorer of the losing side and now the key for Monaco is to transform for Game 1.
“First, we have to control our emotions”, said Monaco coach Sasa Obradovic. “I think this game showed that you have to attack with a plan. We gave too many easy chances, on the other hand. We have to be smarter.”