Radja and Rivers, a lethal duo If a team is down on the scoreboard from the first to the very last second of the game, that means that it deserved to lose. This is what happened to Muller Verona on Wednesday night, against a great Olympiakos who seemed a totally different team than seven days ago at home. Led by the center Dino Radja during the first half (17 points his 22 total) and the playmaker David Rivers in the second half (he finished the game with 20 points), the team of coach Elias Zouros was in control of the game at every single second.
Radja sank the first five points of his team and gave a hint of the great night he was going to have, while on the other side, Henry Williams announced just the opposite thing with his first missed shot. The great defence over Verona's guards by Doussan Vukcevic and Dimitrios Papanikolau was one of the keys of the game. The lethal duo of Verona, Bullock-Williams, was reduced to half of itself, because only Bullock played up to his expected level (26 points, but only 1-of-6 threes), and Verona's chances were dramatically cut.
The first quarter ended 21-33 and this margin was there until the end of the game (84-96). After the third quarter the difference was the same (63-55), and only at halftime (41-50) did Verona make it under 10 points.
The Greek team played a more collective game and took better advantage of its bench players. The game direction by Milan Tomic in the first half, and Rivers after that, was perfect. Papanikolau amazed everybody in only 23 minutes with 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Risasher took chance of his 17 minutes on court to hit 9 points and grab 4 boards. Dusan Vukcevic had a great defensive performance and added 10 points. On the other side, Bullock was only supported on court by Marty Conlon (21 points and 10 boards), but it was not enough to stop the Olympiakos steamroller.
"I want to congratulate all my players, who played a great game against a great opponent in a very hard gym to visit," said Olympiakos coach Elias Zouros. "We played well on offense, giving many balls inside to Dino Radja, and he did a great job scoring. We controlled the pace of the game and always we played with two guards to contest their shooters, Bullock and Williams."
Muller Verona coach Filippo Faina went out satisfied with his team's effort.
"We have finished tonight our experience in the Euroleague," said Muller Verona coach Filippo Faina. "We have no future in the Euroleague, but we had a great past.
"We played the game against a truly fine, top-level European level team and they deserve their great honor of moving on in the playoffs. We were nervous in the beginning of the game and started making bad choices on offense. They scored 33 points in 7 minutes and then controlled the game with their international experience."
Wednesday, February 7, 2001