By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympiacos Piraeus put on a superb performance, especially on defense, to beat Olimpia Milano 91 – 70 at home to win its second consecutive game and improve its EuroLeague regular-season record to 5-6.
Milano dropped to 7 – 4 after suffering its second consecutive loss.
Kostas Papanikolaou scored a season-high 17 points and was one of the anchors of the rock-solid defense of Olympiacos. Vassilis Spanoulis added 14 points and dished out five assists for 17 PIR. His evaluation points were more than enough to place him at the top spot of the all-time EuroLeague PIR leaders with a number of 3900. The captain of Olympiacos surpassed Barcelona legend Juan Carlos Navarro who retired with an accumulated number of 3890 PIR.
Nikola Mulutinov registered his fifth double-double this season by posting 13 points and 11 rebounds for a game-high 30 PIR.
“We played good both halves. It’s not so easy to have a big lead against Armani and we had to work hard for 40 minutes,” Milutinov said. “And I think we worked hard for 40 minutes and we deserved to win. We are working hard at practice and have guys who have only been here a month, and we will get better and better.”
Sergio Rodriguez (14 points), Nemanja Nedovic (12 points) and Vladimir Micov (11 points) scored in double figures for Milano. The “Red Shoes” struggled immensely under the defensive pressure of Olympiacos and collapsed in the second half.
After taking a 40 – 37 halftime lead, Olympiacos overpowered its opponents in the third period on both ends of the floor to establish its dominance. Milutinov gave his team its first double-digit lead in the match when he scored from the line for the 53 – 43 and a couple of minutes later, Brandon Paul nailed a triple for the 69 – 52.
The match continued to be a monologue act for Olympiacos that pushed towards even taking a 26-point lead, 83 – 57 down the stretch when Milano was forced to just four points in the first six minutes of the final period. It was possibly the top game for Olympiacos this season so far and, at the same time, the most lackluster performance by Milano.
That was the word used by Milano coach Ettore Messina to describe’s his team’s meltdown after the break. “My congratulations to Olympiacos, Coach Kemzura, Vassilis and all the rest of the team for excellent performance, especially in the second half,” Messina said. “We were down one after the first two possessions of the third quarter. From that moment on it was a blackout. We will have to analyze the reason for this, and we move on.”