Olympiacos pull out crucial win in Valencia
In an entertaining game that went down to the wire, Olympiacos Piraeus ended its three-game losing streak with a 91-93 road win at Valencia Basket on Friday night. The victory gave Olympiacos a 7-11 record while Valencia saw its six-game home winning streak snapped, dropping to 8-10 on the season. The teams traded leads throughout the game and exchanged several fourth-quarter runs. But Olympiacos was the last one to deliver the punch, then used offensive rebounds from Sasha Vezenkov and Georgios Printezis to preserve the lead and the victory. Printezis led the winners with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Vezenkov collected 17 points and 7 rebounds. Kostas Papanikolaou added 16 points, Brandon Paul netted 12 on 4-for-7 three-point shooting, and Vassilis Spanoulis had 10 points and 8 assists for the Reds. Fernando San Emeterio shined for Valencia with 23 points and Vanja Marinkovic had a career night with 20. Sam Van Rossom scored 11 and Aaron Doornekamp 10 in the losing effort.
Papanikolaou had a productive start to the game, scoring 6 points as Olympiacos was up 2-8, but San Emeterio answered with a three-pointer to start an 8-1 run that put Valencia in front. Taylor Rochestie hit a triple for Olympiacos as the teams kept trading punches, with San Emeterio's baseline jumper tying it at 16-16 after 10 minutes. Paul and Guillem Vives exchanged three-pointers in the opening minute of the second quarter, and after Vezenkov gave an offensive boost to the visitors, Vives knocked down another one from way downtown to restore Valencia's lead midway through the quarter, 27-25. Soon, however, Vezenkov and Paul hit back-to-back triples as Spanoulis orchestrated the offense with 3 assists to give the visitors 31-39 lead. San Emeterio snapped a 2-12 Olympiacos run and cut the difference to 36-39 before halftime. Valencia went back in front 42-41 after back-to-back triples from Quino Colom and Doornekamp, but the visitors scored the next 9 points, including three-pointers from Papanikolaou and Antonios Koniaris, to open 42-50 lead. Koniaris's second triple made it 43-53 midway through the third, but San Emeterio and Marinkovic replied with a three-pointer apiece. Valencia got within 55-58 as San Emeterio scored 6 more points, but Paul hit a triple to give the Reds with some breathing room. Vezenkov beat the shot clock with an off-balanced triple and Printezis beat the third-quarter buzzer to make it 63-70. Valencia needed less than 2 minutes to tie the game, with Doornekamp hitting from deep and Marinkovic picking Spanoulis's pocket to race for a dunk. Olympiacos answered with a 0-8 run as Paul and Vezenkov each buried long-distance shots. Then, it was Valencia's turn to string together baskets, with Sam Van Rossom hitting a triple to spark a 9-0 run capped by Colom's jumper to put the hosts up 79-78. But Papanikolaou sparked Olympiacos to a 1-7 run, capped by a triple from Printezis, to make it 80-85. Marinkovic kept Valencia with a chance, but Vezenkov had a tip-in, and with the Reds up 86-89, Printezis grabbed a key offensive rebound with 9.9 seconds to go and made the ensuing free throws to seal the game.
Timely offensive boards
Valencia outrebounded Olympiacos 41-33, including 12-6 on the offensive glass. However, the key offensive rebounds proved to be those by the Reds. First, Sasha Vezenkov came out of nowhere for a tip-in with 1:45 to go that made it 82-87. Then, with Olympiacos clinging to an 86-89 lead, Kostas Papanikolaou missed both free throws but Printezis attacked the glass and got the rebound that secured an important victory for the visitors.
Finding three-point range
Olympiacos entered the game averaging just 8.0 three-point shots made per game, but hit 12 on this night, its second-highest total this season. Brandon Paul was the author of 4 of those shots, in 7 attempts, while Vezenkov hist 3 of 6 and Antonios Koniaris gave a big contribution by making 2 of 3 from behind the arc.
Valencia won six consecutive home games before this loss. And while that streak ended, another one continued. In this rivalry, Valencia won the first meeting between these teams in Piraeus in 2003. Since then, however, Olympiacos is now on a nine-game winning streak.
A vet and a rookie
A seasoned veteran and a rookie shined the brightest for Valencia in this game. Fernando San Emeterio scored just 19 points over five games going into this clash, only to drop 23 against Olympiacos, which is just two shy of his career-high. In addition, rookie shooting guard Vanja Marinkovic netted 20 points for a PIR of 26, both season highs.
Both teams will be in action already on Tuesday in Round 19. Valencia travels to face Khimki Moscow Region (8-10), while Olympiacos will be at home to welcome ALBA Berlin (5-13).
Friday, January 10, 2020