By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The future of Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow in Group F had already been written before their game, since the hosts were eliminated, while the visiting team had locked the first place in the standings. But that didn’t stop CSKA from putting its some great offensive basketball on court, with which they beat their opponents 99 – 96, and showed why – in this year as well – they are considered major favorites to lift the trophy.
Nando De Colo confirmed once again why he is one of the very best (if not the best) players in Euroleague right now, scoring 20 points and recording 36 in the evaluation system. A new career high in the competition. For Olympiacos, Matt Lojeski finished the game with 18 points in his return to court after almost two months.
The guests assumed the needed control that would lead them to the final victory, five minutes before the end of the game, when a small three-point barrage made the score 73 – 82 after a partial score of 2-12. Although Olympiacos decreased the difference to four points, with three minutes to go, CSKA made some key baskets by the hands of De Colo and Kurbanov, which kept their team at a safe distance. The hosts’ valiant efforts for a comeback near the end were simply not enough.
CSKA was the team to enter the game in a highly aggressive manner, scoring 19 points in the first five minutes, while receiving only 9 and finishing the quarter ahead of the score 25 – 33. Their high three-point percentages (6/8) did not lie on how focused they were, even in a game where they didn’t really need to win.
Coach Sfairopoulos’ players changed their loose attitude and proceeded to implement some solid defensive plays, beginning the second period with a 11-0 run that handed them the lead, 36 – 33. Although their guns had been cooled down a bit, CSKA’s reaction was swift and good enough to make it 45 – 50 before the teams went to the locker rooms.
With Vaggelis Mantzaris firing up the engines of his team, the third period became a monologue for Olympiacos that outscored its opponents 24 – 14, making it 69 – 64. But CSKA balanced the scales quickly, and then tipped them to its favor thanks to its superior scoring opportunities, which were beautifully made into baskets by the guests who stayed ahead until the final buzzer.