Olympiacos wins the first final!
The game was one without tomorrow. Do it or die… And the Ivkovic’ players did it. Olympiacos won a qualification well deserved for the eight best teams in Europe edging Galatasaray 88-81 and is now getting ready to meet Siena once again.
The “reds” showed from the beginning that they really want this victory and with Spanoulis and Dorsey leading the way and with excellent defense as well, the lead quickly reached 10 points. At the beginning of the second quarter though, the zone defense played by the Turks shifted balance and Galatasaray returned to the game. Just before the end of the first half, the “reds” once again played well securing a thin lead.
The tempo did not change in the second half. Law and Printezis came to the aid of the captain and Olympiacos maintained the lead despite the Turks efforts to come back and the fact that they managed to keep close always using zone defense as their weapon.
Captain Vassilis Spanoulis took over in the fourth quarter leading his team mates to the eight best in Europe.
The quarters: 24-14,43-35,67-58,88-81
Οlympiacos (Ivkovic): Hines 9 , Antic 8 , Spanoulis 20(3), Dorsey 8 , Papadopoulos 3, Κeselj, Pelekanos, Printezis 16(1), Papanikolaou 3, Mantzaris 3(1), Sloukas 4, Law 14 (1)
Galatasaray (Mahmouti): Sip 12 (3), Lakovic 12 (2), Koksal, Soumpert 11 (3), Andric 15 , Gildirim 2, Αldemir 10, Lucas 13 (1), Arslan 3, Ozer 3, Savovic
DUSAN IVKOVIC: “It’s only fair that we made the best eight teams of Europe. Congratulations to all the players. Olympiacos has always been aiming high. We faced a lot of problems this season. We played a well-controlled game. We deserved to win. The game, by looking at the numbers and the good first quarter we played, probably should have been finished earlier… But maybe we got stuck by our mistakes against zone defense. We have had very good shooting percentages, however, the reason the game was decided by seven points has to do with the fact that we missed 12 free throws. At the same time, our opponents shot many free throws. Galatasaray was steadily getting better, but we controlled the game playing good basketball. We move on… We have many important obligations in March… Like the cup final… First of all of course we have the games against KAOD and Ikaros and everything else comes next.
Things are now of course better for us. Given the problems we have been facing and the situation in general. Now the players are not under so much pressure. And the same goes for Spanoulis who played a very good game. Time works in favor of the team. It’s going to be better after each game.
I don’t know about Siena… We are going to watch the games, we are going to get organized and we are going to be ready. We have a plan… After the Cup Final we should have to move the game against Panionios for a day or two. We’ll do whatever it takes; however, the series against Siena is a long way ahead. We have time ahead of us.
The fans, the ones that understand what the deal is, came to help us. They had been terrific, our sixth player”.
VASSILIS SPANOULIS: “It feels good because we are a young team. I want to congratulate everyone, from the youngest of my team mates to the administration. Whatever we have done, would have been lost, should we had lost tonight. Siena is a great team; they have a winning spirits and a lot of personality. Until the series comes though, we still have a lot of time and we have other games to think about”.
ACΙΕ LAW: We knew it was an important game for us. We knew that since the Final Four is in Turkey, they would give their best, but we wanted the victory even more. I don’t know much about Siena, now we need to celebrate, enjoy our success with my team mates and we’ll see about it next. We know Siena is a great team, one of the best teams in Europe, but we should try a make at least one break.
ΚOSTAS PANANIKOLAOU: We have more or less talked about it with the guys, we need to be 100% focused against Siena, go for the best at every game and perform on court as we do in most of the games apart from one until now and we’ll see what we’ll have accomplished at the end. What has changed for the team is defense and the chemistry which is great. We enjoy every game, every practice, and every play. There is some great chemistry this season and we only hope for health. We do enjoy what we do. Also defense is everything for us this season. It doesn’t matter how many points you score, you have to be careful about how many points you receive as well. We have to prepare for each upcoming game and not just for the games against Siena.