The first step…
Before the Final Four, there is the Greek League and the semi finals against Aris. Olympiacos is leading 1-0 after the first game of the series, having won 75-63 and the two teams are meeting again in Thessaloniki on Monday (18.45).
Olympiacos began the game kind of numb and the good shooting percentages of the hosts outside the perimeter caused some nervousness. However, after 5’ in the game, the players of Panagiotis Giannakis played great defense and found the right corridors in offense, with Linas Kleiza, Sophocles Schortsanites and Josh Childress leaving their mark. Olympiacos trailed even by 10 points, but came back to the game and in the second half completely controlled it, never being in danger of losing.
The quarters: 20-26, 40-35, 59-49, 75-63
OLYMPIACOS: Papaloukas 5, Penn, Childress 17(1), Vujicic 2, Vassilopoulos, Bourousis 3, Kleiza 19(2), Mavrokefalides 6, Beverley 4, Teodosic 9(1), Schortsanites 10.
ARIS: Clark 14(4), Miles, Betts 8, Walsh 10(1), Richardson 9(2), Chatzivrettas 8(2), Dikoudes 2, Skordilis, Paunic 2, Kakiouzis 8, Barlos 2
PANAGIOTIS GIANNAKIS: “It was a very good game. Coach Blatt works hard and his team is especially competitive. We gave some easy and free shots to our opponents in the beginning. This created pressure, which however, we managed well and came through. I believe that we won playing good basketball against a strong team that can hurt you if you don’t pay attention. We have been trying from the beginning to face each game as if it’s a final. We know that our fans love the team and want to watch it. We expect them to be by our side. The players have certain logic… They wait in the beginning, trying to avoid penetrations. They think that outside shots don’t have many chances of finding target”.
PATRICK BEVERLEY: “Aris is a very good and hard team that has a great coach. They began the game impressively, but we managed to close the score with our defense. It’s very difficult playing in Aris’ home court. We need energy to make it and finish the series before the Final Four”.
DAVID BLATT: “Congratulations to Panagiotis Giannakis and his team for the victory. It was a tough game and hasn’t been easy for each one of us. Beverley was the key-player. You don’t need to score the most points to be the MVP of the game. We knew we had to play a powerful team that is going after big things, but – with all due respect – I think some really … funny staff happened during the game. We have to focus and play well on Monday to win. Olympiacos played some very pressing defense that damaged our flow in offense. You have to play your best from the beginning to the end and not only in the first minutes to get a positive result in a game like that. We fell short only at some moments, but it cost us”.
MATT WALSH: “We began knowing that Olympiacos is a very strong team. We were good in the first minutes, but in the second half we had too much pressure and we didn’t make it. We are looking at the second game and we hope to win”.