James sparks Laboral Kutxa to tough win over Reds
In a game where neither team had a lead bigger than 7 points, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria edged Olympiacos Piraeus 74-73 on Friday night in Vitoria. Laboral improved to 5-6 in Top 16 Group F, where it shares fourth place with Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Mike James strung together 9 of his game-high 17 points for a 9-2 run that put Laboral up for good, 72-68 late in the fourth quarter. With 67 second remaining, Davis Bertans sank a long jumper, which turned out to be the difference in the game. Olympiacos had chances to win in the final minutes, but Laboral held on as James finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Bertans netted 15 and Fabien Causeur 13 points in victory. Olympiacos, which was without Vassilis Spanoulis, dropped to 8-3 and third place. Georgios Printezis collected 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Othello Hunter scored 14. Oliver Lafayette, who missed a potential game-winning triple, netted 8 in defeat.
First quarter: Bertans hits threes, but Olympiacos jumps in front
Vangelis Mantzaris scored inside to open the scoring, and after Causuer made a runner on the other end, Dunston scored from close range on consecutive possessions and Printezis finished a fastbreak with a dunk for a 2-8 lead. After a Laboral timeout, Bertans nailed a pair of triples to tie the game, but Matt Lojeski hit from downtown, too, to make it 8-11. Colton Iverson and Printezis traded baskets from close range, but Tornike Shengelia and Bertans nailed back-to-back three-pointers as the hosts went ahead 16-13. The Reds regained the lead with a basket from Lojeski and a monster dunk from Hunter. Causeur made a steal and raced for a layup, but baskets inside from Hunter and Printezis kept the visitors in front, and Sloukas drove for a layup to make it 19-23 at the end of the quarter.
Second quarter: The Reds keep slim lead
Sloukas kept running the visitors’ offense and fed Vasileios Kavvadas with a lovely pass for a layup. After a big dunk from Kim Tillie, Sloukas found Dimitrios Agravanis for a wide-open three and a 21-28 cushion. Oliver Lafayette sank a tough baseline jumper, but a step-back triple from Fernando San Emeterio and a fastbreak dunk from Bertans helped Laboral get within 29-30. Printezis nailed a triple and James countered with a baseline jumper. Mantzaris drove for a runner, but James raced for a fastbreak dunk to bring his team within 33-35. Olympiacos remained in front with a three-point play from Hunter, but San Emeterio banked in a tough baseline shot to make it 36-38 at halftime.
Third quarter: Teams trade blows, stay close
Shengelia drove for a layup, and Iverson had a put-back dunk to give Laboral the lead, but Tremmell Darden sank a triple to put the Reds up 40-41. The teams traded leads as Causeur twice drove to the basket, while Lojeski hit a long jumper. A fastbreak layup from Printezis and a triple from Lafayette gave the visitors a 44-48 advantage. Bertans made free throws, and Hunter responded with another dunk. After Ioannis Papapetrou and Mirza Begic traded quick layups, a corner triple from San Emeterio tied the score at 52-52. In the final minute of the quarter, free throws from Agravanis and Sloukas on one end, and Tillie at the other made it 53-55.
Fourth quarter: James leads Laboral to dramatic win
Agravanis buried a triple to open a 5-point margin as Olympiacos kept the hosts scoreless for almost three minutes until Causeur sank a triple, Laboral’s third attempt during the same trip down the floor. On the next possession, James hit from way downtown for a 59-58 lead. Hunter split free throws, but Tillie had a monster dunk and Causeur drove coast-to-coast for a layup and a 63-59 advantage with six minutes to go. After a timeout, Printezis banked in a pair of close range shots to tie it, before Lafayette knocked down a triple to go ahead 63-66. James split defenders to drive for a layup for the hosts, then made 5 of 5 from the foul line for a 70-66 difference. Hunter elevated high for an alley-oop dunk, but James made a steal under Olympiacos’s basket and scored a layup, his ninth straight point. On the other end, Sloukas answered with a basket-plus-foul for a 72-71 lead. Bertans sank a jumper with his toes on the 6.75-meter arc, but Hunter had another huge put-back dunk to make it 74-73. In the final minute, Printezis missed 2 free throws with 41 seconds remaining, and after Tillie’s baseline jumper rimmed out, Lafayette missed a potential game-winning triple before Laboral ran out the clock.
Friday, March 20, 2015