First victory for the TOP-16
Olympiacos won his first game for the Euroleague TOP-16 edging Zalgiris in Kaunas 71 – 64. Dusan Ivkovic’ “reds” played exquisite defense in the first half of the game and led by 24. However, in the second half the Lithuanians returned and took down the difference to 3 points, but Vassilis Spanoulis and his team mates retained the calm and reached an important victory.
The quarters: 16-23, 22-40, 43-56, 64-71.
Per quarter: 16-23, 6 – 17, 21-16, 21-15.
Zalgiris (Elias Zouros): Brown, Chapin 3, Pocius 19 (2), Kalnietis 7 (1), Delininkaitis 9 (2), Klimavicius 4, Jankunas 2, Kouzminskas 2, Milaknis, Marjanovic 12 (7 reb.), Watson 3, Collins 6.
Olympiacos (Dusan Ivkovic): Papaloukas, Nesterovic 9 (8reb.), Spanoulis 17 (2), Vassilopoulos, Bourousis 11, Keselj 3 (1), Mavrokefalides 4, Nielsen, Erceg 4, Teodosic 13 (3), Halperin 3, Gordon 7.
DUSAN IVKOVIC: “It was a very tough and important game for us and I think we deserved to win. The game had two faces. We played great defense in the first half. After the loss against Fener, tonight’s game was all the more important, that’s why I played with more experienced players. We played absolutely wrong defense in the second half. We gave them room, we gave room to Pocius, Kalneitis and Delininkaitis. I have to congratulate Zalgiris for not quitting the game. This victory gives us confidence in view of what’s coming next. Tonight we were better and we deserved to win. I think it’s a great victory considering how we had played against Fener, but we also have to congratulate Zalgiris for showing character. They kept the game interesting to the end and never gave up”.
JAMON GORDON: “We did exactly as planned in the first half. We played good defense, took advantage of our assets, made some big shots and all of these have us a wide lead. We did not show the same face in the second half, maybe because we relaxed, maybe because Zalgiris is also a TOP-16 team and that level any team can hurt you. They played very aggressive defense and made some crucial shots, but we managed to take what we wanted at the end. We look at every game as if they are finals, and the next one is against Valencia, where we expect to give to our fans what we deprived them off at the game against Fenerbahce/Ulker”.
ELIAS ZOUROS: “I want to congratulate the fans, they helped us a lot despite trailing by 20. I love these fans. Tonight I exploited the pride of Lithuanian basketball, congratulations to my players for fighting to the end, we came very close, but we still need to work a lot on situations like these. Olympiacos is an experienced team that’s been built for years to make the Final Four. I’m proud to be with Zalgiris and work with these players. I promise that we’ll be better every day”.