EuroLeague Mid-Season Review: Olympiacos on track for Redemption
With the first half of the EuroLeague season now in the books, AGONAsport’s Peter Katsiris takes a look at the progress Olympiacos have made in their bid to reach the EuroLeague Play-offs…
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Devotion is known as the theme for the EuroLeague, but the word redemption is very much on the mind of Olympiacos as the Piraeus giants target a return to the EuroLeague Final afterlosing last season’s showpiece.
A strong start for Olympiacos sees the club firmly in a play-off spot as the EuroLeague reached its midway point with 15 rounds of action in the books thus far. The Eyrthrolefki not only hold second place in the standings, but look in good form to reach the play-off round with home advantage in hand.
After last season’s devastating loss to Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague Final, Olympiacos have looked motivated to reach the Final Four again in 2018. Despite a load of injuries to would-be starters, Olympiacos have managed an 11-4 start to the EuroLeague season and sit firmly in second place at the halfway point of the regular season.
In fact, Olympiacos have found themselves within the top-two of the league standings for most of the season; however, a recent loss to Zalgiris Kaunas saw CSKA Moscow take sole possession of top spot at the midway point as the Russians currently sit at 12-3.
Olympiacos’ impressive start to the season has largely been built on four and five-game win streaks, as the Erythrolefki have done well to rebound from a loss with back-to-back wins at the very least. There was a mini stretch of games that saw Olympiacos go winless in back-to-back weeks as Panathinaikos and Barcelona managed to defeat the Piraeus giants.
Despite losses to Panathinaikos and Barcelona, Olympiacos have beaten most of their traditional rivals this season, including wins over table-toppers CSKA Moscow, titleholders Fenerbahce, and Luka Doncic’s Real Madrid.
Perhaps Olympiacos will be slightly disappointed with their two other defeats against Brose Bamberg and Zalgiris Kaunas; however, injuries have plagued Olympiacos for most of the season. Summer-signing Kim Tillie has been out of the lineup since October, while Vassilis Spanoulis only recently returned to the lineup after missing more than two months to start the new season.
The injury bug has also kept Nikola Milutinov out of the lineup for several weeks, while Dimitris Agravanis has been shut down for the rest of the season after suffering an ACL rupture.
Olympiacos’ formula for success has been built on strong defense as the Erythrolefki hold the best defensive record in the EuroLeague with the least points allowed (1065 points allowed) through 15 rounds of action. Meanwhile, Olympiacos’ offense (1101 points scored) is the worst of any teams currently occupying a play-off spot and second worst in the league – only Brose Bamberg have scored less points (1097 points).
Still, Olympiacos look destined for another play-off appearance and with their campaign expected to go the distance, Olympiacos coach Yiannis Sfairopoulos will be hoping that his side can stay healthy while the likes of Tillie and Milutinov are able to rejoin the team.