Olympiacos stun Panathinaikos to take series opener
GREEK BASKET LEAGUE - FINALS (GAME 1)
|Panathinaikos||65 - 75||Olympiacos|
|(26 - 19)
(32 - 35)
(49 - 52)
(65 - 75)
Olympiacos left the crowd at the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall in stunned silence as the Piraeus giants surged to a 1-0 series lead in the Greek Basket League Finals on Sunday.
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Panathinaikos’ unbeaten run in this season’s Greek Basket League came to an end in Athens on Sunday night as Olympiacos overpowered the Trifylli for a 75-65 win in game one of the Basket League Finals.
Kostas Papanikolaou was in inspired form as he led Oympiacos with 14 points while Brian Roberts enjoyed a strong shooting night as he chipped in 12 points.
Vassilis Spanoulis’ miserable shooting night was overcome by solid contributions form Olympiacos’ bench, which featured a strong performance from Janis Strelnieks (7 points, 2 assists) in the fourth quarter.
Similar to Spanoulis’ struggled, Nick Calathes didn’t have an enjoyable evening despite his 8-point, 5-assist performance. The Panathinaikos playmaker struggled to make shots (4/16, 25%) which seemed to stagnate Panathinaikos’ offensive efforts.
Mike James emerged as Panathinaikos leader on the night with 23 points while Chris Singleton added 18 points for the home side.
A strong start from Xavi Pascual’s men saw Panathinaikos hold a 26-19 after the first quarter as the home side looked keen to make the most of home court advantage.
The Panathinaikos advantage didn’t last long, however, as Olympiacos stormed back in the second frame with a 16-6 run in the second frame. Panathinaikos struggles to score, matched by Olympiacos efficiency at the other end of the court saw the Erythrolefki take a 35-32 lead into halftime.
A more efficient performance from Panathinaikos in the third quarter saw the Trifylli put more points on the board after the restart, but the home side couldn’t pull level with Olympiacos as the Piraeus giants remained ahead by three points (52-49) heading into the fourth quarter.
Despite a decent fight from Panathinaikos in the fourth quarter, the final frame belonged to Olympiacos and Strelnieks in particular. The Latvian international played a vital role in keeping his side in front with a flurry of clutch shots to pad Olympiacos’ lead and deflated the Panathinaikos bench.
Smooth playmaking from Olympiacos’ guards also helped to fend-off Panathinaikos’ resurgence. The likes of Vangelis Mantzaris and Georgios Bogris combined well to set-up Papanikolaou for a clutch three-pointer that was the final dagger in what will be seen as a vital win for Olympiacos ahead of game two of the series at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus on Thursday.