Olympiacos bounce back in style with Kemzura at the helm
Olympiacos Piraeus bounced back in a big way from a disappointing opening night to run away with a 89-63 home victory over Valencia Basket. Olympiacos tallied 54 points in the first half alone in Kestutis Kemzura’s first game as interim head coach following the departure of David Blatt. Nikola Milutinov led the way with 17 points while Vassilis Spanoulis added 17 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. A total of six home players scored in double figures as Georgios Printezis and Mindaugas Kuzminskas both netted 13 points, Kostas Papanikolaou had 12 and Kevin Punter chipped in with 11 points in helping Olympiacos move to 1-1. Valencia dropped to 0-2 despite Jordan Loyd scoring 12 points and Brock Motum picking up 11.
Both coaches made numerous changes to their starting lineups after the Round 1 losses. Kemzura kept Printezis and Milutinov but inserted Antonios Koniaris, Spanoulis and Brandon Paul over Punter, Wade Baldwin and Kuzminskas. The only Valencia player back in Jaume Ponsarnau’s starting five was Motum with Sam Van Rossom, Loyd, Vanja Marinkovic and Bojan Dubljevic in for Alberto Albade, Fernando San Emeterio, Guillem Vives and Mike Tobey. Olympiacos tipped off the game in fine fashion with Milutinov’s dunk starting an 11-0 run. The guests did not get onto the scoreboard until Loyd’s three-pointer after more than 2 minutes. Loyd hit another triple and was joined from long range by Motum and Marinkovic as Valencia stayed close at 15-12. Olympiacos had Milutinov down low with 8 points already and Kuzminskas made it 22-14. The Lithuanian added a three-pointer and the hosts led 31-22 after 10 minutes. Olympiacos did not let up on offense in the second quarter with Papanikolaou coming up with a three-point play and three-ball to push the margin to 39-24. The hosts’ defense did not allow a basket for more than 4 minutes in increasing the advantage to 49-28, and the score was 54-30 at the break. Olympiacos needed nearly 4 minutes to score in the second half with Valencia only managing a Vives and-one to make it 54-33. Once the hosts got it going again, Papanikolaou and Punter both hit three-pointers and the lead grew to 65-36. The Greek side went 2 minutes without a basket but Spanoulis picked up the team with three baskets and a 72-44 lead after 30 minutes. Kuzminskas converted a three-point play to start the final frame and Milutinov kept up his strong game in making it 77-44. Valencia tried to do some final result cosmetics with a 2-11 run to pull within 79-55. And it would get as close as 86-63 in the final minutes.
Olympiacos improved its all-time EuroLeague mark against Valencia to 8-1, including winning the last eight games. Valcencia’s only win over the Reds came on November 13, 2003.
Nikola Milutinov not only scored 17 points but also grabbed 14 rebounds, 8 of them coming on the offensive glass. He also dished out 2 assists and had 1 steal without turning over the ball in nearly 27 minutes of action for a PIR of 29.
Milestone for Papanikolaou
Kostas Papanikolaou went 3-of-3 from three-point range to move to 202 three-pointers for his EuroLeague career.
Olympiacos made 56.1 percent of its two-point shots and also drained 9-of-19 three-pointers plus 16-of-19 free throws for 84.2 percent. In addition to also winning the rebound battle 33-22, Olympicacos held Valencia to just 29.6 percent on three-pointers and forced 20 turnovers.
Olympiacos will look to make it two in a row as it stays home and welcomes Zenit St. Petersburg on October 18. Valencia hopes to grab its first win of the season as it heads back home to face Anadolu Efes Istanbul on the same night.
Friday, October 11, 2019