By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympiacos head coach David Blatt commented on team captain Vassilis Spanoulis sitting out the fourth quarter and overtime of the win over Baskonia saying that it was a decision he felt it was for the benefit of the squad.
“You know me, you know my career. I’ve coached some very great players in my long career and he’s truly one of the greatest. But if I feel I need to sit him or anyone else down in order for the team to have the best chance to win, that’s what I’m going to do. Although he’s truly one of the great players in a long list of great players that I’ve coached,” Blatt said.
The Reds came back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Baskonia to ultimately force overtime with a 3-pointer by Kostas Papanikolaou and then get the victory.
They did so with Spanoulis – the top clutch player on the team and arguably one of the best in crunch-time situations in EuroLeague history – at the bench for the last nine minutes of regulation plus the extra five of overtime. Spanoulis had also been out in the final moments during the losses vs. Fenerbahce and Darussafaka plus the wins over Real Madrid and Anadolu Efes. The outcome of those games was decided in the last minutes or seconds.
Overall, Spanoulis spent 11 minutes on the floor vs. Baskonia, finishing with four points (1/4 f.g.), three rebounds, one assist, and four turnovers. He came one second away from tying his playing time career-low 10:59, registered in Game 1 of the 2015 playoffs vs. Barcelona. The three-time EuroLeague champion and Final Four MVP was then coming off an injury.
“The plan wasn’t to play Billy 11 minutes,” Blatt mentioned. “I’m just coaching the game in a way that I feel I have to, to give ourselves the best chance to win. They were playing with a lineup or lineups that really required us some more size and defensively to give ourselves the opportunity to get back in the game with good matchups. We did that vs. Fenerbahce and we lost. But we did give ourselves a chance to win.”
“We certainly didn’t plan to play Billy 11 minutes. It was a gametime decision. Something I felt I have to do. That’s something unusual and it will be unusual. You won’t see that a lot, I guarantee that,” Blatt added.