By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympiacos was completely transformed in the third quarter against Khimki, grabbing a precious victory 89 – 77 and getting his run for the playoffs back on track. Giorgos Printezis was definitely the man of the game for the Reds, with a career night in scoring and not only. With his 30 points he broke his previous record (26) and was absolutely the MVP for the match. He also grabbed 9 rebounds. For Khimki, Tyrese Rice had 14 points and 8 assists.
Transition baskets worked fine in the beginning of the game for both Olympiacos and Khimki, but the Russians were the first to find some further solutions in set game situations, and thrive on each and every mistake that their opponents made in offense, thus taking a double score digit 7 – 14 in the mid of the first period. But the Reds took swift action on defense, matching Khimki’s speed on both ends of court to answer with an impressive run of their own and lots of fast break plays, to make it 20 – 21.
During the first minutes of the second quarter, Khimki grabbed one offensive rebound after the other. Although it didn’t specifically boost its scoring, it initially prevented Olympiacos from finding more chances to score. While the Reds managed to tie the match, 27 – 27, coach Kurtinaitis’ players banged consecutive 3s to quickly regain a lead of 6. Familiar problems started to appear for the hosts in half court plays, while the Russians were blazing thanks to the help of their impeccable ball movement, that was also obvious by their 12 assists in 16 minutes. Khimki kept finding open looks to the basket for a new double digit lead, 27 – 39. Once again Olympiacos reacted thanks to the massive helps of Giorgos Printezis on both ends of court. The Greek power forward had 16 points and 6 rebounds in the first half, to help his team get closer, 38 – 43, before the two squads went to the locker rooms.
Through their super quick and even more accurate passing the player of Khimki kept unlocking the defense of Olympiacos taking once again a double digit lead, 44 – 56, 4 minutes into the third period. The entrance of Johnson Odom and his dynamic drives, along with Daniel Hackett’s post up game provided extra of scoring solutions for Olympiacos, but these two players also made the team from Piraeus ultra strong on defense. Slowly, the guests started losing the rhythm which switched sides… very quickly, with the Reds reducing the deficit more and more until they tied the score. It was obvious that the scale has been turned in favor of the Reds.
With momentum and heavy dozes of energy at their side the hosts kept stopping their opponents from scoring by suffocating them on defense, while increasing their lead to 8, 68 – 60. When Khimki finally found its way to the basket, it was too late since coach Sfairopoulos’ players were finally completing pick n’ roll attacks with ease and cooperated with each other ideally in order to score more and more in order to even gain a double digit lead. Nothing could spoil Olympiacos’ hold on the game on its way to a big, crucial victory.