By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
The difference between standings leader Olympiacos Piraeus and bottom-placed ALBA Berlin was accurately reflected in the game between the two sides that opened Round 24.
Sasha Vezenkov scored a season-high 28 points on 10-13 shots and grabbed 13 rebounds as Olympiacos crushed ALBA 93 – 60 on the road to extend its winning streak to 6-0. Despite the absence of star playmaker Kostas Sloukas and forward Alec Peters, the Reds had a near-perfect game on both ends for 30 minutes, save for the second period, to make short work of their opponents.
“Before everything, I want to dedicate this win to the families of the victims that our club [lost as part of the Karaiskakis Stadium disaster] 42 years ago,” Vezenkov said, referring to the “Gate 7 incident” of 1981. “This win is honored to them and to all of the fans of our clubs.”
Regarding the game, Vezenkov added: “The key [tonight] was the consistency we put in the first and the third quarter, the defensive effort we had… we kept ALBA to 60 points, even though we didn’t play 40 minutes of the same energy level on defense. I’m really happy, because we won one more game, and now we have to keep going because the EuroLeague is really tough. ”
Thomas Walkup provided, once more, strong playmaking with 10 assists to go with his 15 points while Kostas Papanikolaou had 11 points. Joel Bolomboy added nine boards and seven points for the Greek side that basically finished the game early, thanks to a 14-0 run for a 43 – 72 advantage near the end of the third quarter.
ALBA was unable to react and trailed even by 37 down the stretch. The hosts had cut a 20-point second-period deficit to nine a bit after the break but were overwhelmed by an Olympiacos squad that quickly took another 20-point advantage and kept increasing it without problems.
Only Luis Olinde scored in double figures for ALBA, registering a career-high 16 points. Luke Sikma scored nine points. “Congratulations to Olympiacos, they played a really, really good game,” ALBA coach Israel Gonzalez said. “We are with a lack of confidence; the last two games at home have been very bad. We need to think and try to understand why we are playing like this at home and try to do better in the next games.”
Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartokas was pleased with how his players performed, save for the second period. “We were solid for three quarters, and also our execution on offense was key for the game,” he said. “In the second quarter, we had some turnovers, we didn’t protect the ball… they hit in transition. This is a typical pace team. Whenever they find open shots in transition, and when you pull down the rhythm, you can control the pace, and this is the key for the game. Our defense – and of offense, of course – was really solid for three quarters, except the second one.”