Spanoulis’s heroics lift champs over Greens in Athens derby
Vassilis Spanoulis completed an Olympiacos Piraeus comeback from a double-digit deficit by hitting a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to down archrival Panathinaikos Athens 68-65 in a thrilling Top 16 finale for both teams on Thursday night. The win clinched third place in Group E for the Reds with an 8-6 record, while Panathinaikos settled for the fourth spot at 7-7. It was a game of runs in which Panathinaikos took control with a 2-16 spurt that bridged the first and second quarters, and behind 10 second quarter points from Loukas Mavrokefalidis took a 29-37 halftime lead. But Olympiacos rallied after the break with a 16-2 run of its own, as Evangelos Mantzaris sank a pair of triples, putting the hosts up 45-42. The visitors went back in front, and led 50-58 with less than five minutes to go, but Kosats Sloukas hit a pair of triples, and Spanoulis took over at the end, scoring 5 of his 9 points in the final 23 seconds to win it for Olympiacos. Sloukas had 12 points and 5 assists in victory. Bryant Dunston also scored 12, while Evangelos Mantzaris netted 11 with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. For Panathinaikos, Mavrokefalidis scored 17 on 7-of-7 for two point shooting, Ramel Curry scored 10 and Zach Wright had 8 points in defeat.
First quarter: Panathinaikos goes in front with 0-10 run
After two and a half minutes, and nine possessions, Ioannis Papapetrou get the scoring going with a corner triple, and Mantzaris drove to the hoop, helping the hosts to a 6-0 start. The Greens scored no baskets for more than four minutes to start the game, before Antonis Fotsis buried a triple. Papapetrou scored inside, and Spanoulis a long jumper to make it 10-3, but Panathinaikos countered with 10 unanswered points as Roko Ukic scored on both sides of a run that put the visitors in front. Ukic fueled things with a short jumper, and after a layup-plus foul from James Gist, Mike Batiste nailed back-to-back jumpers to make it 10-13. Dunston snapped a run with a dunk, but Ukic sank a last second triple for a 12-16 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Mavrokefalidis scored 10, keeps the Greens in control
Mike Bramos opened the second quarter with a triple, and after Dunston and Wright traded layups, a monster jam from Brent Petway helped the hosts come within 17-21. But Mavrokefalidis hit a jumper, and Curry drove for a layup. Dunston slammed another one home, but Mavrokefalidis hit a nifty floater and Wright hit a mid-range jumper to make it 19-29 midway through the quarter. After a timeout, Matt Lojeski cut the deficit with a fastbreak dunk and a layup, and after Mavrokefalidis scored a basket in a crowd, Lojeski knocked down a three-pointer to get within 26-31. But Mavrokefalidis scored inside and then hit a long jumper. Fotsis added a layup to extending the margin to 11 points, but Stratos Perperoglou, also back from injury, beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to make it 29-37 at halftime.
Third quarter: Olympiacos re-takes the lead with a 16-2 spurt
Similar to the first half, baskets were few and far between to start the second. After three scoreless minutes, Jonas Maciulis scored a pair of layups to make it 29-41. The Greens did not allow a single point for more than four minutes when Dunston split free throws, then fed Petway for a high-flying dunk. Now the hosts’ defense took over, while a triple from Mantzaris halved the deficit to 35-41. After a timeout, Sloukas nailed one from downtown, then Dunston scored inside and split foul shots for the Reds to regain the lead, 42-41. Mavrokefalidis snapped the visitors’ scoring drought, splitting free throws, and Mantzaris hit from deep to make it 45-42, but Curry nailed a long turnaround jumper, and Mavrokefalidis got a lucky roll on a baseline jumper as Panathinaikos held a 46-48 lead after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Spanoulis comes through again
Curry hit a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter, and Gist made a basket-plus foul on a fastbreak for a 46-54 lead. Spanoulis drove for a layup, and so did Mantzaris, but Curry hit a step-back jumper and Wright raced for a fastbreak layup and a 50-58 cushion. Petway knocked down a three-pointer, and after Wright hit a jumper for the Greens, Sloukas nailed another three to bring the Reds within 56-60. Dimitris Diamantidis hit free throws, his only points of the game, to leave Panathinaikos some breathing room, but Sloukas nailed another one from long range to make it 59-62 with 2:32 to go, and his fourth triple tied it at 63-63 with 60 seconds remaining. Olympiacos made another defensive stop, and Spanoulis drove through the crowd for a 65-63 cushion with 23.1 left on the clock, but after a timeout, Mavrokefalidis made a big dunk. There were 4.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Olympiacos called a timeout, and the ball expectedly went into the hands of Spanoulis who pulled up a meter behind the three-point line to drain a game-winning triple. In the remaining time, Panathinaikos did not get a shot off and the hosts celebrated a thrilling victory.
Thursday, April 10, 2014