Everything that Olympiakos is supposed to plan for the year is in danger of being shaken in the wind and Yiannis Fileris writes about the excesses that must be done and the victories to come so that the team stays standing in a very difficult moment
The slogan of the EuroLeague is that “every match counts”.. At the end of the year the account is cynical. From here the victories and from there the defeats. No one remembers the details of the matches, how a team won or lost, if they were lucky, unlucky, had injuries, setbacks, how much sweat was shed to turn matches which, however, they did not win.
Just like it happened in the last two games of Olympiakos. As in Istanbul with Fener, so also with Baskonia in SEF, the “red and white” came back from a difference of 18 points, but in the end – even at the end – their opponents celebrated.
This time Olympiacos did not have time to score in their last attack, as there were only seven tenths of a second left. It was Baskonia that scored in its last possession. Cody-Miller McIntyre, not even the best scorer of the Basques, stepped firmly in front of Kanan, put the basket from the top of the racket, responding to the two accurate shots of Giannoulis Laretzakis who had momentarily given the lead to his team.
Defeat, then. Won’t anyone remember the red-whites’ over-the-top effort to turn a game around that seemed to be slipping out of their hands? Then, when Olympiacos started as it needed to, it passed 26-16, with the hot Alec Peters as the spearhead. Suddenly, as if all the lights went out. In a total blackout, Baskonia looked like the Lakers of Magic and Jabbar, scoring 34 points in one quarter (and 44 seconds)!
The Vitoria team, which has regained consciousness after the arrival of Dusko Ivanovic on its bench, completely changed the match, having – in the second period – 11/19 shots (6/7d, 5/12tr, 3/3 shots) 13 rebounds out of of which 5 were offensive, 9 assists and just 1 mistake! Moneke, Sendekerskis and Marinkovics who had come off the bench scored 27 points and Olympiacos looked like a dazed chicken, receiving one slap after another.
The three that weren’t enough…
What did Olympiacos need to turn this match around, with the difference at the beginning of the third period rising to 18 points? First of all to play good defense again. He did it for the entire second half.
Baskonia from 50 points, which it achieved in the first two quarters, was stuck at 25. The “red and white” chased every contested ball, somewhat balanced the battles under the basket and, gnawing half the difference in the third period, came back stronger in the fourth.
They had also found three players, key points of reference for the epic counter-attack.
- Mustafa Fal, in a sensational performance, came close to the triple double again, having 10 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He was responsible for 28 points of Olympiakos (10 of his own and another 18 of his passes), made three interceptions and played almost the entire forty minutes, as Milutinov, in addition to tendinitis, also has a small fracture in his toe.
- Isaiah Kanan led the comeback, setting individual highs in points (23) and steals (3), going 5/8, leading the way with his steady arm and body shots for Baskonia
- And Alec Peters, even if it was difficult to mark the dynamite Moneke, had another great game, at least on offense. The 22 points he scored is this year’s record. He also grabbed the most rebounds of any teammate and was a constant threat…
The assists given by Papanikolaou with his consistency in defense and Laretzakis who took the tries at the end and was ready to give the win before McIntyre took the bite out of his mouth were important, but they were also not enough to defeat the Piraeus.
Olympiacos was unlucky because its two aces stayed too far from themselves, in the executive part. Walkup finished with zero points and Goss with 4. Together they were 0/7 from 3-point range. If they scored one, their team would have won.
Turn on a red light
We wrote about it the other day. Defeats make life difficult for teams in a very demanding competition like the EuroLeague. Especially when a team has been struggling since the start of the season in losses and injuries, the danger of being swept away by the maelstrom of results is real.
An alarm has already been raised in Olympiakos, because the negative record (3-4) and especially the image of the struggling team, due to the consecutive losses, is troubling. McKissick and Shikma remain inactive. Will Milutinov be added to that list? ThWill the “red and white” team be left with a classic centre-back, with the one who is left to be forced to play 37-38 minutes, even in the Greek league, as happened with Fal in the match against PAOK?
If something like this happens, the blow will be very big, because it is supposed that the great strength of this year’s Olympiakos would be the coexistence of the two giants (Milutinov-Fall).
After all, everything is supposed to be of the year, we have not yet seen it put into practice on the floor, since:
- Missing is the vertical play of McKissick, a player capable of changing the game off the bench. Brazdeikis has partially taken on that role, but firstly he’s not the same player as “Shack” and secondly he’s still searching for himself, he’s a bit hesitant and trapped.
- Walkup fatigue is an important fact. The mistakes, even in easy phases, made by the Greekized American highlight the problem that exists in “1”. In the first four matches, Walkup had scored 51p (12.4 rpg) with 11/28 three-pointers and in the next three, he scored just 4p with 0/10 tr!
- We haven’t seen Shikma at all. Two seasons, one with Panathinaikos and another with Milan (where he played without being ready yet). A second has not appeared since.
Coach Bartzokas explained to Sp. Kavalieratos’ question how he is thinking about the possibility of adding or changing a player in the given time period. The alarm that has been raised may mobilize other plans, alternative or not, which may be put into practice.
The red light, however, also requires excesses from all the rest, as it’s a devil’s week with Maccabi (in Belgrade) and Red Star in SEF. Wins cure everything, as you know, and above all, they keep teams up