Qualification is in the hands of Olympiacos despite the defeat
Olympiacos lost 73-67 to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Peace and Friendship Stadium, but the European and Greek Champion is still holding its destiny in its own hands. The ‘reds’ made a really poor start in the game and thus the Israelis were leading 21-13 at the end of the first quarter with the Piraeus team being extremely nervous and with poor shooting percentages.
The players of Giorgos Bartzokas continued exhibiting lack of concentration, which the Israelis took advantage of and consequently created an 18 point margin in their favor at the end of the first quarter (41-23).
Spanoulis, Law, Sloukas and Antic stepped up in the second half and Shermadini showed the way in defense leading to a decrease of the score difference. The Champions of Europe and Greece closed in at five and three points respectively, but the guests making some really lucky shots managed to maintain their lead and ultimately win the game.
Τhe quarters: 13-21, 23-41, 49-56, 67-73
Οlympiacos (Bartzokas): Hines 4, Law 10, Antic 7, Spanoulis 19, Perperoglou 5, Shermadini 5, Sloukas 7, Powell 2, Gecevicius, Perkins, Papanikolaou 8
Maccabi (Blatt): Logan 20 (4 3p.), James 9, Smith 13 (3 3p.), Hickman 16, Roth, Pnini 4, Medley 2, Ohayon 8, Planinic 1, Landesberg
GIORGOS BARTZOKAS: “Tonight’s game has two facets. We actually through away the first half. We were terrible in defense; we lacked confidence and were hesitant in offense. We made many mistakes and had a lot of bad choices and that’s why we were trailing by 18. It was by all accounts the worst half we have played so far in the season. In the second half however, without shooting any better, we almost made the upset due to our defense. Great shots though, especially those by Smith from a nine meter range, hurt us terribly. But before they happened, we made three bad offensive choices that cost us the chance to have a one point game. We have not been playing well lately, injuries have played a role in this and the ones who do play cannot find a chance to rest. Tonight we faced a new misfortune with Powell. I would like to congratulate all those who played in the second half for their effort but we need to understand that when playing at this level, one half is not enough. Maccabi has a good momentum right now but we are also to blame for that. Our philosophy in the first half had been all wrong. We are going to qualify if we win both remaining games, but we need to get rid of the stress that overwhelms us right now. We made a mess of the situation; we are the ones to make it right. The fans have been supportive, but when we play at home the pressure is extreme. The players are not ready to manage last season’s success and it shows by the fact that we have a better record playing on the road. We also need to address this issue”.
DAVID BLATT: “It has been an important victory for our team. Olympiacos is a quality team, they are the European Champions and they have a deep roster. Winning here is really something. The ‘key’ to the game has been the first quarter, when we had been really good. Olympiacos put pressure in the second half, but we stayed on our feet, just like boxers need to do. We came close to get knocked down, but we stood our ground. Winning a game from Olympiacos is not an easy task, so you need to make some special things happen. Those had been the baskets made by Logan or Smith. If Smith’s basket hadn’t gone in, the result may have been different. The situation now is good for us, but the job hasn’t been done yet. We need to beat Besiktas at home to come close to one of the greatest come-backs a Euroleague team has ever made. This is not something that can be done on auto pilot and I remind everyone that we need to remain as focused as in our last five games. We hadn’t been playing that bad in the first round. We lost some games in the end, we hadn’t been that bad. We have returned to certain defense we had been used to play before but had failed to play lately. Finally, we use a rotation with shorter guys. You win one game, you win two and then you build a momentum and this is really important in such a long tournament, with 14 games. If the games hadn’t been so many, we would now be coming to Greece to eat … souvlaki! I love the new Euroleague format; it’s a great format for both coaches and the players and also for everyone else. We have six very strong teams in our group. I would also like to ask something. How’s Aris doing in Thessaloniki? I’ve missed them. Angelou is a very good coach and I hope he does well. He’s an excellent choice”.