Olympiacos overcomes emotions, Baskonia
Olympiacos Piraeus used a fine defensive performance in the second half to beat visiting KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 80-70 at Peace and Friendship Stadium on Thursday night. Olympiacos improved to 9-13 on the season, while Baskonia dropped to 8-14. Despite the loss, Baskonia kept the head-to-head tiebreak advantage over the Reds due to its 16-point win in Round 4. Olympiacos trailed for just one possession late in the first quarter and once it pulled out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never relinquished control of the game. With Georgios Printezis sitting out, Augustine Rubit stepped up with 19 points plus 7 rebounds and Octavius Ellis had a nice debut with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Vassilis Spanoulis netted 16 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting and Nikola Milutinov scored 10 points. For Baskonia, Tornike Shengelia had 14 points and 7 assists and Nik Stauskas and Shavon Shields also scored 14 each.
There was little separation between the teams in the first half. Rubit kept the Reds in front by scoring 6 points and Spanoulis added his first triple to make it 13-8. Spanoulis hit another one from long range, but Shengelia pushed Baskonia to stay close. Achille Polonara put Baskonia briefly in front, 20-21, with a corner triple, but Sasha Vezenkov answered from long range to help Olympiacos lead 25-24 after 10 minutes. A three from Vasilis Charalampopoulos helped open a 30-24 lead in the opening minute of the second quarter, but Shengelia sparked Baskonia's 0-6 run to tie things up again. Spanoulis and Stauskas traded threes to make it 35-33 and the hosts remained in front by a single possession until the fourth three-pointer from Spanoulis, which made it 43-37 at halftime.
Shengelia opened the third quarter with a three, but Spanoulis and Milutinov connected on an alley-oop dunk before Kostas Papanikolaou knocked down a wide-open triple to stretch the lead to 50-40. Stauskas and Shields combined to score 9 points to keep Baskonia within 57-51 late in the third, but Taylor Rochestie had a long jumper and Brandon Paul a triple early in the fourth to make it 64-54 before Rubit's three-point play extended the difference to 69-55 with 7:11 minutes left. Stauskas and Matt Janning each had a three-pointer for the visitors, but those were their only field goals in the next 4 minutes. Rubit answered with a corner three on the other end with 2 minutes to go and there was no coming back for Baskonia.
The visitors were kept alive in this game by their 12 three-pointers, as Olympiacos did a great job inside. The Reds had 4 blocked shots and allowed just 13 of 32 (40.6%) two-point shots.
A minute of silence was observed before the game to honor Robert Archibald and Kobe Bryant who passed away this weekend. To honor the basketball legend Bryant, who wore numbers 8 and 24 during his career, Olympiacos took a 24-second shot-clock violation to start the game and Baskonia followed with an 8-second half-court violation. In addition, Olympiacos honored assistant sporting director Antonis Dais, one of the longest-serving Olympiacos employees, who passed away last week.
Augustine Rubit shined in a starting role for Olympiacos with 19 points and 7 rebounds, and another player using the absence of Georgios Printezis was newcomer Octavius Ellis, who collected 11 points on 4-for-4 two-point shooting in 19 minutes of play. On the other end, Semaj Christon made his EuroLeague debut in a Baskonia jersey and finished with 3 points in 20:35 on the floor.
Vasilis Charalampopolous made his second appearance of the season and hit a three-pointer, which was his first basket in the competition since December 2016. The 23-year-old, who previously made 26 appearances over four years from 2013 to 2017 with Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, also had 2 steals and 1 assist, but unfortunately had to leave the game at the start of the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury.
The two-round week is coming up and both teams will be on the road in Round 23 on Tuesday. Olympiacos will travel to face Zalgiris Kaunas, and Baskonia will square off against a fellow Spanish League club Real Madrid.
Thursday, January 30, 2020