And now the “final”
Olympiacos beat Rethymnon 88-73 for the 22nd day of the Greek League, with good performances by Spanoulis, Hines and Papanikolaou. The ‘reds’ proved to be absolutely ready for the game against Khimki.
The Greek and European Champions began the game well. Spanoulis and Printezis showed the way to the rest, but the team lacked concentration in defense and thus the ‘reds’ were leading only by 6 (31-25) at the end of the first quarter.
The Cretans with a barrage of three-pointers in the second quarter created problems for the Piraeus team and the guests led at 43-42 at half-time. The team of Thanassis Yaples kept on leading with a continuous three-point bombardment, but when the ‘reds’ found themselves trailing by 10, stepped on the accelerator, turned the game in their favor and got the 88-73 victory.
Τhe quarters: 31-25, 42-43, 59-64, 88-73.
Οlympiacos (Bartzokas): Hines 14, Law 6(1),Spanoulis 15(1), Perperoglou 7(1), Shermadini, Sloukas 2, Powell 7, Perkins 1, Printezis 12, Papanikolaou 24(2).
AGOR (Yaples): Horn 9(1), Kallinikidis, Collemon, Angelopoulos 8(2), Τsochlas 2, Duvnjak 11(1), Komatos 10(2), Carter 7(1), Latovic 5(1), Pettway 21(3), Sizopoulos.
GIORGOS BARTZOKAS: “My sincerest congratulations to Rethymno. They are extremely capable at the one-on-one game. They play with two forwards and without a center almost throughout the game, they go face up to rebound. The situation for us is the following by now, there are four games left till the end of the regular season. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time Olympiacos has so easily sealed the first place of the regulation, which means that motivation is not as strong in such games. We have played on the road during the previous week, we had to travel and there has been fatigue. Unfortunately, we did not begin the game well, something that keeps repeating after the games against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Fenerbahce/Ulker.
I think that our problem was in defense tonight, since I think that we played well in offense. We played defense when we were trailing by 9, we lowered our team and won with a 15 point margin. We hadn’t wanted to use Hines for a long time, we had wanted for Shermadini and Powell to have more minutes. But the game got tough, we had to play with switches in the screens and thus change our team. We had aimed to play just like we are going to play against Khimki, but we had to change our game plan and play differently at the end. The good thing is Printezis is getting into rhythm.
I would also like to congratulate him for the game against Fener, he hadn’t been exactly into shape but he did more than enough and made some critical baskets in the end. We had to use him for such a long time due to the problems Antic was having with his lower back. Pero let us know just before the game that he was feeling pain in the lower back and could not even bent over. Rethymno gave us the chance to have a good game. Congratulations to my players for beating a worthy opponent. They have really been trying hard, due to the many injuries we have been facing. Our mind is on the game against Khimki now. I think we are going to be very good and we are not going to have the kind of starts we have had against Maccabi and Fener. It seems that it’s in our destiny to be receiving some crazy baskets, just like it happened at the games against Maccabi and Fener and just like it happened tonight. Good luck to Rethymno.
The team needs a big victory in terms of significance and importance. This can be one against Khimki on Thursday. But even if we are defeated, a possibility I don’t even want to contemplate less alone discuss, there are scenarios that get us qualified. Teams like Olympiacos need victories and titles. This season’s TOP-16 is a product for future analysis. Teams like Real Madrid, Olympiacos and Barcelona have added players. For instance, Real Madrid has added players, just like Barcelona did with Oleson, that don’t have the right to play for the Euroleague, because they needed a bigger roster. We have done the same with Shermadini. Teams like Olympiacos need victories, because bad games are forgotten as time goes by. I don’t want to talk about fatigue.
It’s a matter of confidence. We have had low percentages at three point shooting and besides physical fatigue, this brought mental fatigue as well, resulting in problems with the transition, but when things got tough, we had to play with a short team and switch at the screens. Rethymno helped us prepare against Khimki 100% playing the way they did. They play totally different games, Khimki plays with two centers, their tall players pass the ball well and they play this way a lot. Competitiveness was of great help tonight; our players had to run a lot and fast. I don’t mean to say that we use our opponents as practice partners, by no means. I can sincerely say that I enjoyed some of the plays the Rethymno players created. Of course I’m troubled by the way Perkins has been playing. He’s used to playing differently. He has been trying a lot at practices, he’s very different there from what he appears to be during official games and I would say that he did not play badly tonight. It seems that the team lacks rhythm with Perkins in it. Even when he doesn’t make mistakes, Olympiacos loses the rhythm. We should not concentrate at this point on one player, there are other players as well that don’t play well at the time, but what counts is for the team to win. It isn’t the moment to focus on one player at the time. What matters is the team. The thing is, my associates have been doing an excellent job in that part, they have been talking with the players, just like I have been doing and we have been trying for the best”.
ΚOSTAS PAPANIKOLAOU: “We played against a very good team at one-on-one and at three-point shooting, we did not manage to contain them, we let them built confidence since they made a lot of threes. They have players who can execute well, they play well one-on-one and we knew it was going to be difficult from the beginning. We were trailing by 9 at 32’ and the team ran a big streak to reach victory. This is the positive thing. Just like the coach has said, what happened tonight was good for us in view of the game against Khimki. For sure we have to stop making bad beginnings in our games from now on. But we are now down to the last couple of months of the season. From Thursday on, everything will be decided for us. Our goals had been to qualify for the Euroleague play-offs and win the championship which of course is ahead. So, it’s going to take a little more concentrating at every practice and we are going to have to give 110% of what we’ve got in the games to follow. Defense got us all the way last season, although we should stop talking about last season as well, defense should become our weapon once again. We should focus on defense, give all we got at every practice and at every game”.