The ‘reds’ fell fighting in Tel Aviv

Olympiacos failed to escape with a victory from Israel. The reds lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv 64-65, for the 22nd round of the Euroleague.

The ‘reds’ made a strong start, pressed when defending and with Nigel Williams-Goss and Zack LeDay leading the offense, they got to lead 8-2 (at 3’). Our team maintained the lead up to 7’ (14-8), however, Maccabi T.A. took advantage of its superiority at rebounding as well as of the poor perimeter percentages by David Blatt’s players and tied the game 14-14 (at 9’).

Vassilis Spanoulis shaped the score at 14-16 for our team with a lay-up (score that marked the end of the first quarter0, however, Olympiacos did not succeed in finding rhythm in the offense. The team continued shooting extremely poorly from the 6.75m. line, did not pay for it however, since the hosts were also shooting terribly from the perimeter as well (both teams had only 1 three for 12 attempts up until half time).

Nigel Williams-Goss, who was the most reliable offensive solution for our team, took the difference up to 5p. (14-22), the Israelis tied the score 26-26 at 18’, but thanks to a fighting Giorgos Bogris (especially in defense and with offensive rebounding) and the first three in the game scored by Janis Strelnieks, Olympiacos closed the third quarter leading by 3 (26-29).

The game maintained all the derby characteristics in the second half (37-37, at 25’), the big problem though was that Olympiaocs kept shooting with tragic percentages from the three point line (1 for 17 up until 30’). Relying on the dominance of Black inside the post the equally off target “People’s” team succeeded in building a +5 difference (54-49, at 35’). Vassilis Spanoulis and Axel Toupane found target with threes’ shots and kept Olympiacos alive (57-55 at 37’), however, Black kept going undeterred, made his free throws (contrary to his previous missed attempts) and increased the margin once again to +5 (63-58).
With two back to back threes, V-Span turned the game in our favor (63-64, with 14’’ to the end), Wilbekin gave Maccabi the lead back (65-64), Giorgo Printezis missed his shot in the remaining 4.4” and hence the opportunity to give our team the victory.

The quarters: 14-16, 26-29, 45-42, 65-64.

Μaccabi T.A. (Sfairopoulos): Wilbekin 17 (1), Pargo 5, O’Bryant 7, Kaloiaro, Roll 9 (1), Kane 6, Τyus 2, Dibartolomeo, Cohen, Black 19, Zousman.

Οlympiacos (Blatt): Williams-Goss 16, Τoupane 3 (1), Spanoulis 16(3), Τimma, Μilutinov 9 (7 reb), Strelnieks 4 (1), Vezenkov, Printezis 6 (8 reb), Papanikolaou 2, Μantzaris, Bogris 2, LeDay 6

«It was a tough battle»

The Olympiacos coach, David Blatt, stated: “Congratulations to Maccabi. It was obviously a game that could have gone either way. They made one more good play than we did and won. Playing here was a great experience for me, the fans, the players. It was an extremely competitive game. It was a tough battle. The teams did not shoot with good percentages due to defenses and due to the pressure put by the situation. Sometimes the ball goes in for you and the opponent misses the shot, sometimes the opponent makes it and you miss yours».

Asked if he remembers any game in the past with a similar outcome for his team, he replied: “We played against Fenerbahce at home a few months back and the same thing happened. We had the last possession and we took a similar shot, from similar distance and we missed it. And we lost that game. So it’s not in the distant past that I remember such a game. I have lived through a lot of such games in my life. Some of them had a happy ending for me, others not. But that’s basketball. Tonight you watched two good teams that really competed».

About the threes scored by Vassilis Spanoulis in the fourth quarter and if they were something he had expected, he commented: “It’s not a surprise to basketball fans and it’s certainly not a surprise to me. He made big shots and he took the responsibility the way he made them. That’s very big and important for us. But if we see the big picture, the game is not decided by a shot at the end. Spanoulis made a lot of good plays, but there had been more situations during the game that maybe we took un-necessary shots, without any balance or we lost the ball possession. We had three fouls to give in the third quarter and despite I had given a clear order to make them, we didn’t and we received baskets. These are the two points we were missing at the end of the game. Everyone remembers Vassilis big plays, but there are more things that other players should have done”.

Finally, asked on whether he believes the coach Sfairopoulos knowing some of Olympiacos’ players too well had an impact on the game, since he knew how to contain them, he replied: “No. It’s just that Maccabi played very good defense and that doesn’t have to do with the coach’s knowledge of our players. Printezis took the shots, it is obvious that Spanoulis scored… Papanikolaou was coming out of an injury and had not played the previous two weeks. All of these do not have anything to do with Giannis knowing how they play, despite the fact that he did he has been doing a great job here! That’s very good for Maccabi and I congratulate him for it”.

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