Olympiacos downed Caja Laboral 85-89
In a spectacular game of runs and reactions, the Top 16 got a rollicking start in Group H on Thursday as Olympiacos outlasted Caja Laboral 85-89 on the road in Vitoria, Spain. The victory by the Reds tied them with Khimki for first place in Group H, and was worth even more for how it was seized, by putting down one Caja Laboral comeback after another. Olympiacos seized double-digit leads in three different quarters and Caja Laboral erased all but the last of them. Star turns by half the Olympiacos lineup were all needed to overcome the hosts. Josh Childress shined with 21 often-acrobatic points, including a key late triple, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Ioannis Bourousis followed with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Linas Kleiza scored 18 and had 7 rebounds. Milos Teodosic added 14 points and 6 assists while he and Theo Papaloukas, who had 6 assists, too, teamed up for key plays in the fourth-quarter takeover by the Reds. Caja Laboral had its warriors, too. Marcelinho Huertas sparked the hosts off the bench and finished with a Euroleague career-high 23 points. Fernando San Emeterio drilled 20 points and dished 7 assists. Mirza Teletovic added 18 points and Tiago Splitter 10.
Childress started the scoreboard by downing an open triple. Caja Laboral went inside to Splitter, dunking off a pass from Pau Ribas. Olympiacos got its inside game going with Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who attacked the rim twice for a 2-7 Olympiacos lead. But he also committed 2 quick fouls and sat. His replacement, Bourousis, took a great pass from Teodosic, who then buried a triple and the free throw that came with it for a four-point play and a 6-13 advantage. Teletovic responded with a great pass for another Splitter dunk and his own fastbreak basket, but Childress and Kleiza also attacked in transition, forcing a Caja Laboral timeout at 8-17. The Reds kept surging, however, with a Bouroussis hook and another drive by Kleiza at 8-21. After several minutes without points, San Emeterio scored on the break for the hosts. But Kleiza answered quickly, and when Childress flew from the three-point line to the basket for a windmill dunk, it was 12-25 and even the home fans had to applaud. Caja Laboral refused to waste the end of the quarter, however, getting baskets from newly-added Taquan Dean, Lior Eliyahu and Splitter to lower the difference to 18-25.
Caja Laboral's confidence roared back as Huertas opened the second quarter by eluding Childress with a spectacular reverse and the added free throw. Next, he fed Eliyahu to cap an 11-0 run that put the hosts within 23-25. Kleiza broke the Olympiacos slide with a free throw to which Bouroussis added a layup, but Walter Herrmann on a turnaround and Huertas a lane jumper kept it close, 27-28. Bouroussis hit foul shots and a short two-pointer before Olympiacos re-opened a sizable lead with layups by Childress and Teodosic at 29-36. And if Caja Laboral got nice baskets from Eliyahu and Splitter, Olympiacos had Childress, who stepped out for a triple and then stole to feed Kleiza for a dunk at 31-43. Caja Laboral needed something again, and as in the first quarter, got it. Teletovic's first triple was the spark, then San Emeterio followed with a driving layup-plus-free throw, cutting the difference to 39-45 after one entertaining half.
It got even more entertaining for the fans in Vitoria when Teletovic and Huertas tied it up 45-45 on a pair of big triples right after the break. Huertas then did the honors of supplying the first Caja Laboral lead with a three-point play at 48-45. Olympiacos answered quickly. Childress dunked in traffic, Teodosic hit intentional free throws and Bouroussis stepped out for his own three-point blast as the Reds grabbed the advantage back, 48-52. The visitors' show continued as Childress bounced a backdoor pass to Kleiza for a flying slam. But again, Caja Laboral refused to wilt. San Emeterio blasted a triple and Huertas drove hard for a layup. Then San Emeterio stole the show with back-to-back triples, the second of which suddenly had Caja Laboral ahead 59-55. Splitter added free throws at 61-56 before Teodosic ended the Olympiacos drought with a layup, although Carl English did the same for the hosts. Out of nowhere in the quarter's final minute, Teodosic went cross-court to Scoonie Penn for a game-tying triple. Then, Papaloukas connected with Nikola Vujcic for the go-ahead basket on the buzzer, making it 63-65 for Olympiacos after 30 minutes.
Kleiza hit a running basket to extend the Olympiacos run to 0-9. Teletovic backed down for a fadeaway to restart Caja Laboral, then he made a quick-release triple look easier for another lead change, 68-67. Vujcic's baseline hook took a lead back for Olympiacos and Papaloukas drove to add his first points to it. A couple rare misses followed before Huertas hit a one-handed runner, but Teodosic fed Papaloukas for a reverse in response. When the same duo switched roles, with Teodosic scoring, it was 70-75 and Caja Laboral needed a timeout. It worked well, too, as Huertas rorke free for a layup, but Papaloukas found Childress down low to answer. As much as Olympiacos was scoring under the basket, now with a jump hook by Loukas Mavrokefalidis, Caja Laboral could not hit in close. Another Caja Laboral timeout was needed, out of which Teletovic boomed from long-range and Huertas inside to suddenly cut the difference again, to 77-79. But then the answer came from Bouroussis, first from downtown, then on an inside basket at 79-84. When Huertas made it closer at the foul line, up stepped Childress with his own three-point strike. One more driving layup by Teodosic and it was 79-89 with 90 seconds left. Caja Laboral kept working to limit the damage - with Eliyahu, Huertas and San Emeterio finishing the scoring - but the crucial first victory in Group H was going back to Pireaus with Olympiacos.
Thursday, January 28, 2010