Vezenkov leads Olympiacos past Zalgiris

2022-10-14T21:52:37+00:00 2022-10-15T12:58:15+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

14/Oct/22 21:52

Zalgiris was a tough nut to crack but Olympiacos managed to subdue them down the stretch.

By Eurohoops team/

Sasha Vezenkov scored 23 points and grabbed a EuroLeague career-high 13 rebounds as Olympiacos Piraeus beat Zalgiris Kaunas 90 – 80 at home. The game was held behind closed doors since the Greek powerhouse was sanctioned by EuroLeague for the events in Game 5 of the 2022 playoffs vs. Monaco.

Moustapha Fall added 16 points for Olympiacos and Kostas Sloukas had 15 points plus five assists. Giannoulis Larentzakis contributed 15 points of his own while hitting the dagger for the 85 – 73 with 1:32 remaining.

“We thought before the game that this would be a very difficult game for us, and it was”, admitted coach Giorgos Bartzokas. “Without the fans and against a team that never gives up and plays for 40 minutes with the same attitude… they fight and have a lot of good shooters and keep the pace at the same level. I really appreciate this win. It was very important and we will see that in the future. Zalgiris is going to win a lot of games. Congratulations to the players. Let’s get back to work and then prepare for the trip to Spain for two very difficult games [against Real Madrid and Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz]. But this is our life. The next game is always a difficult one.”

Zalgiris had erased a 10-point deficit in two minutes and approached 74 – 70 halfway through the fourth period to become a threat down the stretch. Olympiacos reacted with buckets courtesy of Vezenkov, Larentzakis, and Shaq McKissic for a 7 – 0 run to re-establish a double-digit advantage and feel secure for the remainder of the game.

Ignas Brazdeikis combined his EuroLeague debut with a performance of 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists, showing that he can a reliable leader for Zalgiris, despite the loss. Tyler Cavanaugh added 12 points plus seven boards.

Zalgiris started the game in an aggressive fashion to lead 4 – 11 and was up 18 – 21 at the end of the first quarter. Sloukas, Larentzakis, and Vezenkov lifted Olympiacos and the Reds closed halftime with a 44 – 35 advantage. They never trailed for the rest of the match.

As Vezenkov said: “The most important thing is the win. It was a strange game without our fans. We knew that the atmosphere would be a little bit cold. We didn’t start well, we didn’t play our usual defense. Eighty points are too many on our home court and we will have trouble if we play like this. But the most important thing is the win. We have to understand and realize how to win these games. And I’m very happy for our team. We have to rest. We have a tough trip to Spain and we need to continue and play stronger if we want to get two more wins.”

Thomas Walkup added 10 points and six assists for Olympiacos.

“A difficult game, a super difficult game”, said Walkup about facing his former team. “This [Zalgiris] team is a lot better than last year. I think they are going to win a lot of games this year. And playing in front of an empty crowd when we’re so used to having it rocking in here is difficult. So, we’re happy to be coming away with the win.”