EuroLeague Playoffs Preview: Olympiacos look to exorcise Zalgiris demons on road to Belgrade
AGONAsport’s Peter Katsiris previews the playoff series between Olympiacos and Zalgiris Kaunas as the Erythrolefki look to qualify for a second consecutive EuroLeague Final Four…
Olympiacos’ campaign for redemption continues in the EuroLeague playoffs as the Piraeus giants look to go one step further in the competition this season after falling short in the Final against Fenerbahce last year.
A loss to Zalgiris Kaunas on the final day of the regular season and some help from out of town confirmed Olympiacos’ path to the Final Four in Belgrade will have to go through Lithuania.
While Olympiacos will enjoy home court advantage when the playoff series tips-off in Piraeus on Wednesday, the Erythrolefki have had their fair share of struggles with Zalgiris after dropping the season series to the Lithuanians.
The margin of defeat was narrow in both meetings between the two clubs, including the regular season finale which saw Zalgiris prevail in overtime at the hostile Peace & Frienship stadium.
Back-to-back wins over Olympiacos gives Zalgiris a psychological edge heading into the playoff series, but where Olympiacos might hold the edge is in experience between the two squads.
Zalgiris’ run to the playoffs has been the story of the EuroLeague regular season as the Lithuanians raised plenty of eyebrows en route to a playoff berth. Head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius has dome a magnificent job to keep his side focused after falling short of the playoff round last term.
Kevin Pangos, the Canadian point guard, has been a sensation this season for Zalgiris as the coaching style of Jasikevicius – one of the best point guards to play the game during his time – has truly benefited Pangos in his second season with the Lithuanian giants.
Despite the success of Zalgiris, the task that awaits them in the playoffs represents the biggest mismatch in the playoff tree as Olympiacos’ wealth of playoff experience could prove vital in determining the outcome of this series.
Olympiacos’ duo of Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis are certainly the first names considered when examining Olympiacos’ experience in deep EuroLeague playoff runs, and with the latter yet to face Zalgiris this season due to injury the regular season losses seem to hold less weight from an Olympiacos view.
Nevertheless, the playoff series between Olympiacos and Zalgiris will certainly be a hard-fought battle as Zalgiris look to book a spot in their first Final Four since winning the competition back in 1999.