Played just enough to advance
In the first quarterfinal against PAOK victory came easily. In the second one in Pilea, things were not as good, but the result remained the same. Olympiacos won 68-61 and got the ticket to the play-offs semifinals.
The Dusan Ivkovic players did not maintain their focus in Pilea and gave the hosts the right to enter the game strong. However, after the first quarter, the “reds” changed their defense, but not their offense where they kept making easy mistakes and missing easy open shots.
Nevertheless, they slowly built a small lead that even reached 14 points (41-55) just before the end of the third quarter and had no problem reaching 2-0 victories.
Τhe quarters: 20-20, 31-37, 46-55, 61-68
Per quarter: 20-20, 11-17, 15-18, 15-13
PAOK (Markopoulos): Bojovic, Stiggers 5(1), Arapis, Aleksic 5, Duvnjak 5(1), Dikoudis 12(1), Pettway 4, Pappas 15(1), Giannakidis 2, Κalles 13, Κalampakas, Τsakaleris.
Οlympiacos (Ivkovic): Hines 4, Law 9, Antic 12(1), Spanoulis 15, Vassilopoulos, Dorsey 11, Pelekanos 4(1), Printezis 2, Papanikolaou 2,Mantzaris 6, Sloukas 3.
DUSAN IVKOVIC: I’m not happy at all with the game and how we played. We did not control the game well and we did not last as we should have especially at this period. PAOK had a very strong will despite their problems and got 15 offensive rebounds which is my big complaint to my players. We had been the top European team in offensive rebounding in the season and tonight we lost in that area. This game has to teach us.
Ιt’s the first time in my life and my career that I don’t know what to tell my players about when we are going to practice. Before Easter, the Gentlemen from HEBA told us that we are going to play one or even two play-offs finals before the Final Four. I understand that the Federation wants to end the season soon for the Pre-Olympic tournament. I know, not officially, but from what Mr. Tomic has told me, that we are going to be playing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. These gentlemen had said that they were going to meet with the coaches and talk. Greece is the only country with two teams in the Final Four but no one is helping us. We started the quarter finals on the 19th and we play the first three games for the semifinals till the 28th. I’m asking HEBA which is the reason to push us to play five games in ten days? And then not play a single game for twelve days? What’s the reason for this?
Look at the other teams. CSKA has arranged to play important game in VTB League on May 2nd and 3rd to keep the rhythm, Barcelona plays every three days till May 3 or 4. We don’t have a plan on paper to see what stands. I don’t know what to tell my players. No one has asked for our opinion and I would like to apologize to the coach for talking about this for so long.
We are going back home tomorrow morning because we hadn’t known when we were going to play and I don’t know when to schedule practice for tomorrow. Rumor has it that the games are going to be on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Rumors, not some official schedule. This is scandalous.
They told us before Easter that they were going to talk with the two coaches and now they just say we cannot play. They say that the police forbid for games to take place between May 3 and 7, but what about from the 29th of April till the 2nd. In all other countries, teams that play the Final Four get help and we don’t even know when we are to play the semifinals against Panionios. I don’t know if I’m going to let my players have the day off or whether we are practicing.
This is a scandal and I’m very responsible when calling it one.
VANGELIS MANTZARIS: It was a bad game for us. Despite the victory we are not happy at all, because we never focused from the beginning to the end. But we need to find what’s wrong right now, because the series against Panionios is going to be very tough and if we are like this, then we are going to have a problem.
SOULIS MARKOPOULOS: Congratulations to Olympiacos, they are a better team. I wish them well in the Greek play-offs and the Final Four. I want to congratulate my players for the effort they have made against a very good team that has put a stop on the best teams of Europe. Despite having only one day to work, we said some things and we kept within our work frame for most of the game. I would like to thank all my associates for this season, which has been a difficult one. PAOK has tried a lot to achieve financial health and I would like to think this season has been very helpful in that aspect and will be helpful to the future.
DIMOS NTIKOUDIS: We lost some games in the Regular season that brought us to the eight spot and against one of the best teams in Europe. Having to do nothing for 25 days was bad for us, but we showed something different tonight and I think it was very positive.
I don’t think anything about the future, it’s still too early. We started a season with Euroleague games, then in the Euro Cup with a much stronger roster. Some changes cost us, some defeats too, but we can do nothing for now except from looking ahead.
It’s very positive that the club wants to achieve financial health and stability, but you should always have a strong roster to maintain the guarantees. PAOK should try to be consistent with the players starting in the summer and finish the season with them, but they should always aim high. You cannot stop aiming high just because you are trying to achieve financial stability.