Zalgiris Kaunas
Photo: Twitter/Zalgiris Kaunas

With Thomas Walkup taking advantage of Sloukas’ turnover in the last seconds of the match and scoring the layup, Zalgiris protected their home court and got a thrilling, 81-79 win on Friday night (22/1). The guests had the chance to finish the game having the last possession and a single point lead, but Zalgiris was too hard to die and stole the win in the last seconds.

Joffrey Lauvergne was the top scorer of the match with 21 points while Arturas Milaknis added another 11. For Olympiacos, Kostas Sloukas and Giorgos Printezis were the leading scorers with 16 points while Sasha Vezenkov had 9.

Physical game from the very first minute

With both teams playing tough on defense from the very first minute of the first quarter, Zalgiris got a short 4-point lead (7-3), thanks to Grigonis and Olympiacos’ missed opportunities. Zalgiris couldn’t miss from the perimeter causing trouble to Olympiacos who was still trying to adjust. Exceptional defense from both teams great hustle from Olympiacos and Zalgiris’ ability to score easily brought the two teams at the end of the first quarter with Zalgiris leading by six points (26-20).

Offensive show in the second quarter

Olympiacos fought back from -7 in the second half, with the players of coach Bartzokas playing solid defense while Sloukas was creating opportunities for his teammates to score. Despite the fact that Zalgiris was still effective from the perimeter, they struggled against Olympiacos’ defense that seemed to have the momentum (36-35). The guests run the court, grabbed the offensive rebounds and turned the game upside down and with a 9-0 run got their first 2-point lead of the match (36-38). After 20 minutes of play, the two teams headed to the locker rooms with Zalgiris keeping a short, single point lead (45-44).

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Zalgiris strengthened their defense

The hosts cam out of the locker rooms playing stronger defense retaining their lead and even extending it to 5 points (63-58). Olympiacos couldn’t find the offensive solutions they were expecting, was trapped in Zalgiris’ defense committing turnovers, but Printezis was there, scoring crucial points for his team. Olympiacos only managed to come back within three points to end the third quarter (63-60).

Walkup did it for Zalgiris

Olympiacos was certainly not going to give up on a game they desperately needed. They fought back, tied the game with Printezis and McKissic forcing the bench of Zalgiris to a time out (67-67). The guests strengthened their defense for once again but made some wrong choices on offense giving the chance to Zalgiris to extend their lead to 3 points (70-67) which was quickly tied again from Olympiacos (70-70). Spanoulis and Printezis put Olympiacos in the leader’s position for once more with two consecutive triples and four minutes until the end of the game remaining (72-76). Ζalgiris seemed to have an answer for this too. They tied up and in the last seconds of the match, they took advantage of Sloukas’ turnover and scored with Thomas Walkup winning the game, 81-79.