By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to what was possibly its best performance in the season so far, Olympiacos did more than simply beating Real Madrid 99-84. The Reds covered the point-difference of the teams’ first game in Madrid and now have the tie-breaking advantage, which might be proven crucial in this exhaustive race for the playoffs.
The trio of Vangelis Mantzaris (19 points, 6/6 three-pointers, 5 rebounds), Vassilis Spanoulis (18 points) and Giorgos Printezis (17 points, 8 rebounds) dominated Real Madrid and not only through their overall contribution. Some of their baskets arrived in key moments of the match (like the buzzer beater of Spanoulis in the end of the first half and the one of Mantzaris in the final second of the third period) having a substantial impact on the psychology scale, apart from the one written on the boxscore.
For Real Madrid, Sergio Llull and K.C. Rivers finished the match with 17 points each. Despite the 84 points scored, Pablo Laso’s team failed to diversify its game, having few options on offense and finding less solutions than usual inside the paint. What is more, with every failed attempt, they gave many chances Olympiacos to run the court and score easy points.
The maximum effect of the latter took place during the second period. The squad (Hackett, Johnson-Odom, Strawberry, Papapetrou, Warrick) chosen by coach Giannis Sfairopoulos in the beginning of the quarter made a serious difference by greatly enhancing the defensive efficiency of Olympiacos. The Reds refused to receive any points while unlocking plenty of opportunities to score buckets on the other end of the court, making the most of them by turning the 23 – 17 of the first quarter to 34 – 19.
Real Madrid reacted but then their opponents run a 13 -2 partial score, with Vassilis Spanoulis putting the cherry on the top of his team’s fantastic performance in the second period with the buzzer beating three-pointer that made it 53 – 33 at the end of the first half.
This 20-point lead provided a safety pillow for the hosts, which guided them the final victory. The Madridistas’ efforts, were not enough and the many offensive rebounds (17) gathered by the Reds, hurt their already problematic defense even more. In the end, the only thing that remained for Pablo Laso’s players was to at least try decrease their opponents’ lead and preserve their advantage from the first game. They got close to that during the last minutes, but Olympiacos was not in any mood for giving gifts from the free throw line, keeping the deficit at a desired level.