Milutinov, Olympiacos rule one-sided Greek derby
Olympiacos Piraeus got back to winning ways and a perfect start to the new year with a resounding 79-65 win over the arch-rival Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at Peace and Friendship Stadium on Friday. Olympiacos took control from the start, opened a double-digit margin in the second quarter and never again allowed Panathinaikos to get as close single digits again. The Reds improved to 10-6 for a share of fourth place the standings. Nikola Milutinov led in victory with a career-best performance of 18 points and 18 rebounds – and Olympiacos club record. Janis Strelnieks also netted 18 in victory. Nick Calathes finished as the visitors’ top performer with 13 points and 7 assists, and Lukas Lekavicius scored 10 for Panathinaikos, which dropped to 7-9 record and a share of ninth place.
Georgios Printezis was a facilitator and Milutinov a beast inside in the early going. Milutinov scored half of the points as the hosts opened a 16-8 lead. Panathinaikos big man Konstantinos Mitoglou answered with a triple and added a put-back as the Greens drew within 16-14 at the end of the first quarter. Back-to-back triples from Strelnieks and Axel Toupane restored a 24-16 Olympiacos advantage early in the second quarter. Lekavicius replied with a three as baskets were coming few and far between. Soon, Olympiacos scored consecutive fastbreak buckets, including a transition triple from Strelnieks, to surge ahead 33-21. Nigel Williams-Goss also hit a three-pointer and Milutinov beat the halftime buzzer with a tip-in to make it 41-25 at the break. The Reds remained in control in the third quarter, using triples from Kostas Papanikolaou and Strelnieks to extend the margin to 49-29. Thanasis Antetokounmpo his from downtown for the visitors, but Vassilis Spanoulis bettered it with a triple-plus-free throw that opened 59-38 with 6 seconds to go in the third quarter. DeShaun Thomas beat the third-quarter buzzer with a jumperand Lekavicius had a floater and a three-pointer that cut the difference to 61-47 with 7 minutes left to play. A triple from Calathes trimmed it further, to 65-52, but Printezis had a dunk, Milutinov did more work inside, and Papanikolaou nailed a three-pointer that made it 73-52 and sealed the deal.
Nikola Milutinov dominated from the start. He scored 8 of the first 14 points for Olympiacos. He had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds by halftime. He was a monster under the Panathinaikos basket, pulling down 5 offensive boards and drawing 11 fouls during his 30 minutes on the floor.
Papanikolaou, Printezis come up big
Milutinov was one of three Olympiacos players who played at least 30 minutes, and the other two had big all-round games. Kostas Papanikolaou had 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and a block, while Georgios Printezis contributed with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a block.
Stellar stat, coached by Blatt
Milutinov set Olympiacos EuroLeague record by pulling down 18 rebounds, and became the first player in almost two years to pull down 18 rebounds in the competition. The last man to have done so was Ante Zizic, playing for Darussafaka Istanbul, also coached by David Blatt.
This was 11th Greek derby in the EuroLeague this century and the first time that both games in one season finished with double-digit outcomes. Panathinaikos had defeated Olympiacos 93-80 in Round 6. The 65 points scored by the Greens is tied for the fewest that Olympiacos has allowed against Panathinaikos this century.
In Round 17 on Tuesday, Olympiacos will hosts KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, and a day later Panathinaikos will welcome FC Bayern Munich to Athens.
Friday, January 4, 2019