Spanoulis comes through again as Olympiacos stuns CSKA
Vassilis Spanoulis continued his run of Final Four heroics by scoring 11 fourth-quarter points to lead Olympiacos Piraeus back from a 9-point deficit with four minutes remaining for a 68-70 victory over CSKA Moscow in the first semifinal at the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four on Friday night at Barclaycard Center in Madrid. Spanoulis was the Final Four MVP in both 2012 and 2013 as he led his team to the title by beating CSKA in either the title game or the semifinal. To win their third crown in four seasons, Olympiacos will need to beat the winner of the second semifinal between Real Madrid and Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul in Sunday’s final. Spanoulis missed his first 11 shots of the game and had a performance index rating of minus-4 entering the fourth quarter. He finished with 13 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Georgios Printezis paced the Olympiacos attack with 14 points and 8 rebounds, Kostas Sloukas added 10 points and Ioannis Papapetrou made a biog impact with 9 points off the bench. Nando De Colo paced CSKA’s attack with 18 points, while Sasha Kaun scored 11 and Aaron Jackson and Sonny Weems each scored 9. Jackson also set a Final Four record with 7 steals.
First quarter: Five ties in tense opening stretch
The game opened with Vangelos Mantzaris and Andrey Vorontsevich each hitting threes. Mantzaris then turned provider with an assist to Printezis before Vorontsevich banked a jumper to make it 5-5. A pair of early fouls on Tremmell Darden led Olympiacos to make the first substation with Papapetrou coming in at small forward. Kaun made the free throws resulting from Darden’s second foul. A Vorontsevich block and Kaun steal put pressure on the Reds and Andrei Kirilenko pushed CSKA ahead by 4 with more foul shots. Printezis went into the paint for a floater and Papapetrou crated a fast break with a steal and finished at the other end to tie things at 9-9 midway through the quarter. Sonny Weems put CSKA back on top when he split free throws. De Colo came in and promptly buried a three before handing off an assist to Kirilenko for a slam and a 15-9 edge. Papapetrou halved his team’s deficit with a three-pointer. Then another sub, Oliver Lafayette, added a three to tie the game. Printezis matched De Colo free throws with a layup. Jackson parted the Olympiacos defense for a layup and split free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining in the quarter for a 20-17 lead.
Second quarter: Six lead changes as game stays super close
De Colo drove for a layup before Jackson made it 24-17. Brent Petway’s first tough was a three-pointer that revived the Reds. He then drew a loose ball foul in the battle for a rebound. Papapetrou drove baseline to bring the three-time champs within 2. AfterKaun split free throws, Spanoulis got to the line for his first points at the 5:49 mark of the quarter. On Olympiacos’s next possession, Kirilenko rose to reject Spanoulis and trigger a fastbreak that Jackson finished with a layup. A fearless Papapetrou spun round Kirilenko for a tough bucket. Then Bryant Dunson cashed in on the offensive glass for a 27-28 Olympiacos advantage. Weems followed with a jumper for CSKA. Printezis’s baseline floater and Weems’s driving layup saw the leads change hands twice more. Kaun made free throws and then took a rest as Victor Khryapa came in and blocked 2 shots in his first minute on the floor. However a Printezis triple evend things at 33-33. Matt Lojeski rebounded went coast to coast, but missed his layup. However Othello was there with the follow-dunk. Khryapa evened the score with free throws with a minute left in the half. Kirilenko pushed CSKA ahead 36-35 when he split free throws with 13.6 seconds on the clock; and that’s how it stood at the break.
Third quarter: CSKA pushes ahead by 8, but Reds rally
Jackson started the second half and darted inside for a bucket. Kaun scored inside for a 5-point CSKA cushion. Mantzaris hit a pair of free throws to revive the Reds. Then Dunston attacked the offensive glass, drew a foul from Kirilenko and drew his team within 40-39 three minutes into the second half. De Colo came off the bench, drilled a three and finished a fast break with a layup for a 6-point edge. Dunston took a seat with 4 fouls and CSKA cracked the Reds defense on the next play for a De Colo layup and their team’s biggest lead yet, 47-39. Kostas Sloukas attacked the rim at the other end and came away with a three-point play. Weems finished nicely, but the Reds got right back in it with a Printezis three from the corner and Dimitrios Agravanis’s first points, a short bank shot. Teodosic’s first basket made it 51-47 in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Spanoulis takes charge when it matters most
Spanoulis fouled Teodosic shooting a triple and the latter made all 3 resulting free throws. Mantzaris tossed a pretty pass to Lojeski for a reverse alley-oop layup, but a Teodosic triple reset CSKA’s advantage to 8. Petway made 2 of 3 free throws, but on the Reds’ next attack, Jackson picked off a Petway pass to set a new Final Four record with 7 steals. Kaun scored in the paint for a 59-51 difference with less than six minutes to play. After Dunston split free throws, Kaun further boosted the CSKA lead. Khryapa drew an offensive foul from Petway, but Olympiacos wasn’t done. Soon Sloukas sank free throws and Spanoulis bettered a De Colo basket with his first made shot – a three-pointer with 3:30 remaining. After Sloukas added 2 more free throws, it was 63-59 with a little more than three minutes to go. Printezis’s rebound and outlet pass to Sloukas for a layup again brought the Olympiacos faithful to their feet at 63-61. The Spanoulis sank another clutch shot; his big three put the Reds up 1 with two minutes remaining. After another successful Olympiacos defensive stand, Spanoulis pulled up for a jumper over Vorontsevich. Hines split foul shots, but Printezis missed from downtown at the other end. Vorontsevich chased down a long rebound, which led to an extra possession that Weems turned into a game-tying basket. Olympiacos inbounded with 31.1 seconds showing; Spanoulis dribbled the clock down and launched a three over De Colo that hit the bottom of the net with 9.9 seconds left. Spanoulis then fouled De Colo and just prior to the shots turned to the Reds’ fans and encouraged them to make arena-shaking noise. Nonetheless, De Colo sank the shots to make it 68-69. A quick foul sent Sloukas to the line; he made the first but missed the second with 6.6 seconds to go. Kirilenko got the rebound, but CSKA was not organized enough to get off a shot before the buzzer and Olympiacos started celebrating again.
Friday, May 15, 2015