Olympiacos outlasts Efes in a thriller
Olympiacos Piraeus grabbed its third consecutive home win by edging Anadolu Efes Istanbul 88-81 on Thursday in a fourth-quarter comeback. Olympiacos improved to 7-5 in the standings to retain fifth place while Efes dropped to 8-4 in fourth. Axel Toupane led the winners with 19 points off the bench. Nikola Milutinov added 15 while Georgios Printezis, Zach LeDay and Janis Strelnieks each had 10 for Olympiacos. Printezis added 11 rebounds for a double-double. Vasilije Micic led Efes with 24 points. Shane Larkin added 20 for the guests.
Milutinov got Olympiacos going with an alley-oop layup and a jump hook, while Strelnieks and Printezis helped stake a 10-2 lead. Efes called timeout, but Milutinov kept going with consecutive inside baskets and Printezis added a turnaround floater that made it a 12-point game, 16-4. Kostas Papanikolaou followed a triple with a layup before Nigel Williams-Goss added a fastbreak basket at 23-8 before Krunoslav Simon and Tibor Pleiss cut the Efes deficit to 25-12 after 10 minutes. Three-pointers by Adrien Moerman and Larkin sparked a 2-12 run that ended with Bryant Dunston's dunk brining Efes within 27-24 early in the second quarter. LeDay and Moerman traded triples and Milutinov downed an alley-oop slam before three-pointers by Toupane and Williams-Goss gave the Reds fresh air at 40-33. Micic tried to change things for Efes, but Toupane hit twice again from deep to make it 48-41. Micic's triple and Larkin's buzzer-beating jumper fixed the halftime score at 48-46. A three-pointer by James Anderson and back-to-back layups by Larkin gave Efes its first lead, 50-53, soon after the break. Moerman and Micic, from way downtown, soon boosted Efes's margin to 55-61. Vassilis Spanoulis and Milutinov revived Olympiacos until a three-pointer by Papanikolaou tied the score, but Micic answered in kind to keep Efes up 65-68 after 30 minutes. Simon sank a triple for a 66-73 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Spanoulis and Toupane answered with their own in an 8-0 run that gave Olympiacos a new lead at 74-73. A dunk by Micic turned the game into a thriller, 79-79, with 3 minutes left, before Toupane swished a jumper and LeDay dunked for an 83-79 Olympiacos lead. Efes struggled to score when it mattered most, and free throws by Strelnieks sealed the outcome, 85-80, with 18.6 seconds remaining.
Milutinov was a dominant force in the paint, finishing the game with 15 points on 7-of-7 two-point shooting. He pulled down 6 of his 9 rebounds on the offensive end and had a game-high performance index rating of 24.
With the game tied at 79-79, Toupane downed a five-meter jumper, Micic missed from downtown and Strelnieks send an over-the-head assist to LeDay for a big slam. Olympiacos led 83-79 with 2 minutes left and free throws allowed the Reds to keep full control until the final buzzer.
Rebounds made the difference in this game. Olympiacos outrebounded Efes by 41-26, pulling down 18 on the offensive end. That allowed Olympiacos to make more shots (68) than Efes (63) and take almost twice as many free throw attempts (Olympiacos 15, Efes 8) than the visitors.
Did you notice?
Those 18 offensive rebounds by Olympiacos are a season-high for the Greek powerhouse. The Reds had not pulled so many offensive rebounds in a home game since their 18 against Efes in Game 1 of the 2017 Playoffs on April 19, 2017.
In Round 9, the first of two games per team next week, Olympiacos visits FC Barcelona Lassa on Tuesday in a rematch of the 1997 and 2010 continental finals. Efes welcomes Buducnost VOLI Podgorica to Istanbul the same night.
Thursday, December 13, 2018