Olympiacos advances to the 7th Final Four of its history
Olympiacos won a fair and gutsy qualification to the seventh Final Four of its history and during May 11-13 will be present at the Euroleague fest in Istanbul.
In the “flaming” Peace and Friendship Stadium and in front of 12,000 delirious fans, Olympiacos edged Siena 76-69, got down to 3-1 and sealed the ticket to Istanbul’s Final Four.
The Dusan Ivkovic players began with the same passion as in the previous game in Piraeus. Without the injured Joey Dorsey (concussion suffered in the third game), but with Kyle Hines playing also for him, Olympiacos took the game where wanted.
Οι Ιταλοί πήραν κάποιες αναπνοές μόνο στο πρώτο μισό του αγώνα και στην επανάληψη ένιωσαν στα… κόκκαλα τους την ασφυκτική «ερυθρόλευκη» άμυνα. Άμυνα για σεμινάριο.
The Italians “breathed” a little only during the first half of the game, but in the second half felt a seminar pressing “red” defense, to the bone.
During the fourth quarter, captain Vassilis Spanoulis took his team mates along with Sloukas and Law being the first to follow. The gym was on… fire and the Italians could do nothing but melt in it.
The quarters: 21-21, 38-39, 54-55, 76-69
Οlympiacos (Ivkovic): Hines 19 (7 reb.), Antic 5 (1 3p., 5reb.), Spanoulis 19 (1), Κeselj 3, Papadopoulos, Printezis 8 (9 reb.), Papanikolaou 4, Μantzaris 3 (1), Sloukas 7 (1), Law 8 (4reb.)
Siena (Pianigiani): ΜcCalebb 10 (2), Ζisis 15 (2), Andersen 15 (1 3p., 11 reb.), Cararretto, Lavrinovic 10, Ress, Stonerook 3 (1), Lehtaler, Μoss 5 (1).
DUSAN IVKOVIC: “It was a fair victory and I would like to warmly congratulate all my players, the coaching staff and the administration. The greatest success of all has been that we managed to come back after a not so good beginning. My players gave their best. I would also like to congratulate our fans. It is only fair that we are going to the Final Four. We faced a great opponent. It was a different game than all the rest. I had expected Siena to play focused and with longer good periods with point guards, McCalebb and Zisis and two big guys, Andersen and Lavrinovic… The fact that they made such a strong beginning was due to the absence of Dorsey, who got knocked out by an unsportsmanlike foul. We have to stay on this. It was a purely unsportsmanlike foul… We have to discuss the way the game is played. Do we aim for the players to get hurt or rather give their best?
Siena was very good and had good percentages… We could not get into rhythm under pressure. They made 4/5 3-pointers. They shot that well for the first time. I asked my players tonight that we never trail more than 5 points… We upped the tempo, controlled well and won. We made some mistakes which kept us from finishing the game earlier. It’s tough comparing this series to last year’s. We only made 7 turnovers, passed 12 assists and got 17 offensive rebounds… We played for Dorsey as well. He had wanted to play but I decided against it. It was only the logical and human thing to do.
It was touching that Konstantinos Angelopoulos came to the locker room to congratulate us. I promised him that the whole team will visit the Patriarch’s throne.
Yes, Olympiacos is one of my favorite teams. The situation had been very difficult at the beginning of the season. I had to put the team together and change the administration’s psychology, since they were ready to leave. After such a battle, you don’t need to say much. I had told them that we had to enjoy these games, even if we had not won them, because we would at least have tried. Time worked in our favor. I had said that making the play-offs would be a huge success, but I also told them that we had to keep working hard. We are not going to be satisfied just because we qualified. We still have a lot of room for improvement.
Dorsey was cleared by the doctors to play and came to morning practice. He coming to the hotel while I had already decided on Vassilopoulos maybe hurt us. He was not feeling OK, he had a terrible head ache and I decided against using him. Vassilopoulos would not have been ready, but I had wanted a good player and person with the team. We are going to see what happens in the future. It’s not an easy situation”.
VASSILIS SPANOULIS: “It was a huge success, not many believed in us, not even in the TOP-16, we have had many good and bad nights, but now we are among the four top teams in Europe. I want to congratulate everyone. The Angelopoulos brothers, our coaches, our staff, everyone. The Angelopoulos brothers have been supporting us on a daily basis. Congratulations to everyone, it was a tremendous effort.
We have worked very hard. That’s what I have been trying to do from the beginning. I’ve been doing this the whole season. The fans have been amazing. They were incredible, gave us a tremendous boost. I’m happy to have brought them by our side. Everyone knows what the Olympiacos fans mean. We don’t need to go very far. This is what happens with Olympiacos, after succeeding something good, we have a rough fall. Now we have to put both our feet to the ground, because we have a long walk ahead of us. I’m proud to be a part of this team, I really wish to thank the fans once again and now we’ll meet them in Istanbul”.
GIORGOS PRINTEZIS: “It was a huge success. Qualifying to the Final Four was huge for this team. It’s my second time in a Final Four; it’s a celebration for European basketball. We are not the favorites, so we are going there to enjoy”.
ACIE LAW: “I’m happy for the victory against a very good team such as Siena. I’m looking forward to playing the Final Four. I’m an Olympiacos player and I’ll do the best I can” was what Acy Law said at the beginning and then he was asked about Mccalebb: “I’m happy my team won. From my part, I did the best I could for Olympiacos. McCalebb is a good player; I had heard a lot of good things about him, when I first came to Europe. It’s hard playing against him, I completely respect him”.
VANGELIS MANTZARIS: “I’m very happy to be going to the Final Four in my first season with Olympiacos. We are going to do our best. We have been the surprise winners up to now, but we are not going to go to Istanbul just for the presence. We are going to try and achieve something good…
McCalebb is a good and fast player, but I think we managed to restrain him at some point. Siena is experienced, but we have energy and passion. As the time passed, they were losing it and we were being better and better. We are not afraid of anyone playing such defense…”.
KOSTAS PAPANIKOLAOU: “When you are only a victory away from the Final Four and you play at home, you will do anything to not let the series slip through your hand. We knew they were going to play hard and we had to show them they would not have their way in our gym…
It’s good for us that the fans were kind of restrained. Our coach was telling us at the beginning of the season that we want the team to be ready in January and that’s what happened. Now we need to stay focused in the League and finish the regular season at first place. We are going to get ready for the Final Four in time. Most of us have not yet realized what we have done tonight; we’ll do that when we go to Istanbul”.
ΚYLE HINES: “Nobody was expecting it, we had really wanted this. I played for everyone. For everyone, for Chris (i.e the Olympiacos Press Officer), I played for everyone. I’m proud for everyone. I’m proud for this team. We have been working hard each day. We had becoming better to achieve our goal and we did it.
It’s a tremendous feeling… Defense has been the “key” to the series. We played good defense, we played a good physical game and did what we had to do”.