Sasha Vezenkov Olympiacos
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Olympiacos returned to winning ways after 7 consecutive losses in the Euroleague and got a much needed, 94-79 win against Crvena Zvezda on Friday night (5/3). The home side had the lead in almost the entire game, brought some energy on the court on both offense and defense and ended got the W.

Coach Bartzokas saw his players playing solid defense and following their initial plan on offense with three players in double digits. Kosta Koufos was positive for a second straight match, helping his team with rebounds and scoring tough buckets inside the paint. The team’s defense was what helped the trap the guests and block their offensive attempts.

For Crvena Zvezda, Simonovic was the only threat offensively but he was desperately alone to beat the Greeks who were playing as a team.

Shaquielle McKissic was the top scorer for the hosts with 20 points with Sasha Vezenkov adding another 17. For the guests, Marko Simonovic stopped at 19 points with Ognjen Dobric adding 11.

Ideal start on both ends of the court

Great start for Olympiacos in the first quarter, securing a six point lead against Crvena Zvezda (10-4). The hosts stepped on the court firing from the perimeter with McKissic and Vezenkov while playing solid defense against the Serbian club. Simonovic brought his team back within 4 points (16-12) but Olympiacos’ performance on both ends of the court was just too good to let Crvena Zvezda come any closer. McKissic run on the fast break and gave his team their largest lead of the match (20-12). Coach Bartzokas saw his players controlling the rebound, playing solid defense and following the initial plan on offense. The guests didn’t manage to get anything more from that first quarter and completed the first 10 minutes of the match trailing by 11 (30-19).

Concentration and great execution

Crvena Zvezda took the difference down to 9 points early in the second quarter but it was just too difficult to find their way to the opponent basket. Olympiacos was very strong defensively deflecting the ball and not letting the guests score easy buckets. Spanoulis and Sloukas were passing the ball on offense with their big men doing the job under the rim (36-27). Dobric brought Crvena Zvezda back within four points (36-32) but Livio Jean-Charles was always there to help his team offensively. The Serbians were able to find score from the free throw line while Olympiacos were earning their points through great cooperation and execution (46-40). Simonovic hit the triple to bring the guests close to the score with veteran Giorgos Printezis doing what he knows best to close the veterans battle and the second quarter with Olympiacos leading by 5 (53-48).

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Head-to-head in the third

Crvena Zvezda had a strong start coming back from the locker rooms, took the difference down to a single point with Olympiacos committing turnovers and losing their concentration (53-52). Koufos and McKissic stretched Olympiacos’ lead to six points again but the Greeks were making a lot more mistakes, sent the guests to the free throw line lost their lead and Crvena Zvezda went in front with the triple from Lazic (58-59). From that moment and on we had a tough, physical game with the two teams exchanging leads, Crvena Zvezda clearly improving all aspects of their game but Olympiacos always finding a way to keep a very short lead (72-67). The Greeks finished the quarter strong with a six point lead, after being down by one earlier in the quarter (75-65).

They wanted it more

Olympiacos went into the fourth and final quarter with an 11-point lead from Larentzakis with the Serbians not taking full advantage of the opportunities they had. Olympiacos’ defense was still solid enough to give the hosts what they wanted, an extra possession. Simonovic was the only credible source on offense for the guests but he couldn’t play against a complete Olympiacos squad all alone (84-75). Crvena Zvezda committed turnovers right when they least needed them, giving Olympiacos the chance to run the court and score. The guests scored a 4-0 run and got back within 5 points with three minutes on the clock, but McKissic was just too good. Olympiacos never looked back and closed the match with a much needed, 94-79, win.