Olympiacos stormed back from a 14-point, third-quarter deficit to remain undefeated in Group A after an 81-88 win over Le Mans Sarthe Basket on Thursday night in France. Scoonie Penn led Olympiacos with 26 points and Alex Acker aded 21 points and 4 steals. The visitors improved to 4-0, one game ahead of Tau Ceramica for the group lead. Olympiacos visits Efes Pilsen next week. Le Mans dropped to 2-2 and fell into a four-way tie for third place. It next faces Dynamo Moscow. Acker helped Olympiacos climb back from an early deficit to get within 45-44 at halftime. Le Mans prodigy Nicolas Batum sparked an 11-0 run to start the second half, but Penn and Acker brought the Reds back and Andrija Zizic took over down the stretch to earn the key road win. Zizic finished with 13 and Manolis Papamakarios added 10. The teenage Batum, who had 2 points in his Euroleague career coming into the game, scored 15 for Le Mans, as did Eric Campbell, Kenny Gregory and Sandro Nicevic.
Defensive-minded Le Mans stepped on the gas early in the game, with Tyson Wheeler pushing the ball and Gregory finishing as the hosts rushed ahead to a 9-5 lead. However Olympiacos bounced back quickly when Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Papamakarios entered the game and changed the game through defense, while Acker came up big on the offensive end. The versatile swingman scored 4 points and then fed Panagiotis Vasilopoulos for an easy layup to take a 12-15 lead. Frederic Adjiwamou knocked down a triple to tie the game, yet Papamakarios answered back from beyond the arc and Vasilopoulos scored from an assist by Acker. Le Mans pulled within 19-20 behind back-to-back baskets by Nicevic, but on the other end it was Papamakarios who was left open and punished the hosts with his second triple of the night to boost the margin to 19-25, after 10 minutes of play..
The second quarter got underway with the tandem of Nicevic and Campbell dominating inside. The latter scored on an offensive rebound and moments later converted a three-point play to pull Le Mans within 26-29. Schortsianitis drilled a pair of free throws, but on the other end he could not stop Campbell from hitting a baseline jumper. Yannick Bokolo fired one in from downtown and Batum followed with another triple. The Le Mans rookie was looking nearly unstoppable, picking up the scoring slack and pouring in 10 consecutive points to extend the lead to 45-38. Acker didn't give in and with a pair of free throws and an energetic drive helped Olympiacos claw its way back to 45-44 at halftime.
Le Mans opened the second half with an emphatic dunk by Batum that triggered an impressive 11-0 run and a 56-44 advantage after two minutes of play. Pini Gershon was forced to call a timeout, which seemingly awakened his players and allowed Olympiacos to close the gap behind baskets by Ryan Stack and Penn. On the other end, Nicevic and Campbell created havoc with slams that brought the crowd to their feet and restored a double-digit lead. Stack scored and hit a free-throw and then rejected Nicevic and suddenly the momentum began to shift. Acker caught fire once again and with a three-point play got the guests within 62-58. Bokolo stepped up with a triple to race Le Mans to a 67-60 lead, but a 7-point outburst by Penn turned it into a thriller at 70-69.
Stack was called for a flagrant foul on Campbell, but it translated to only one point for Le Mans. Olympiacos reclaimed the lead when Penn connected from downtown. Pape Philippe Amagou missed a jumper and Penn, who was looking like a man on a mission, popped in 2 more. Batum tied the game with a triple, but what followed was a one-man show from Zizic who scored 6 points to give Olympiacos a 76-80 lead. Nicevic answered to keep Le Mans within 78-80 with three minutes left, but the hosts could not get closer than that. Penn and Zizic sparked another 0-6 spurt that made it 78-86 with 1:12 to go, essentially wrapping up the game. Even though Gregory scored a late triple by Gregory, Olympiacos escaped victorious.
Thursday, November 16, 2006