By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
KAUNAS, Lithuania – Olympiacos was with the back against the wall after the first half, losing by 12.
What followed, however, was the most dominating quarter in the history of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Fours, a 27-2 run in 10 minutes of action, on the way to a 76-62 semifinal triumph.
Sasha Vezenkov with 19 points and Kostas Papanikolaou also with 15 and eight rebounds led the charge, Moustapha Fall added 12 and Thomas Walkup kept scoreless Mike James for a whole quarter as Olympiacos returns to the EuroLeague final for the first time since 2017.
First half belonged to Monaco
The game started with Monaco getting things under control and leading 18-11 after two threes by Mike James.
However, first Sasha Vezenkov and then Kostas Papanikolaou also with threes kept things in check (18-14). Monaco finished the first quarter with a dunk by Chima Moneke, getting a six-point advantage (20-14).
With Shaquielle McKissic taking action, Olympiacos tied the score at 22 with seven minutes left in the second period. Monaco reacted, and after one more shot by James and a three by Elie Okobo, the score was 38-28, six minutes later.
The Greeks couldn’t score, shooting even from the free throws line at 50% (8/16) and 33% from the floor with Monaco’s defense disrupting their offense and taking them out of their usual playing style.
The first half ended with Monaco leading by 12 (41-29) with James already scoring 13 points and Loyd having nine.
An improbable comeback
Everything changed after halftime.
Olympiacos started the second half with a 14-0 run, getting a two-point lead (43-41). Monaco finally scored for the first time in the third period almost after six minutes of action on a fast break which ended with an Okobo dunk (43-43).
The momentum of the game, however, had changed, Olympiacos’ defense was suffocating, 5.000 Greek fans joined the party, and with a partial score of 27-2 in the third quarter, the Reds led by 13 (56-43) entering the last period.
Monaco made just 1/14 FG during the third period and the game was all but over. The best they could do after that was trim the lead to seven (60-53).
James finished the game with 17 points, Elie Okobo had 16 and Jordan Loyd added 11.