The Greek A1 finals series is shaping into a classic encounter between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, as the two titans of Greek basketball continue to maintain the pressure on the other. Tonight Olympiacos stole a lead over its great rival with a 77-72 home success, the first home success of the series so far.
In Game 2 we discussed how the series looks destined to be extremely tight, and despite victory for the Piraeus club tonight, the game suggests that Panathinaikos still has something to say in the remaining contest. Although, the momentum is certainly with Olympiacos with two consecutive wins and the club will be looking to wrap the series in Athens in Game 4.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Panathinaikos Athens, 77-72
The teams were nearly matched in terms of defensive rebounds (23 to 22), but Panathinaikos really struggled to get offensive boards and the second chance opportunities were few and far between. Olympiacos on the other hand look far more secure off the attacking glass and managed 11 offensive rebounds.
Giannis Sfairopoulos named an unchanged starting five and on song it is among the best in Europe, showcases here with 57 of the hosts’ winning points.
However, it was the visitors of Panathinaikos who started the stronger in the game, outlasting the hosts in the first period for a 17-21 lead. The second quarter saw both teams ramp up the scoring, and regular visits to the bucket paid off for Olympiacos with a 24-23 success in the frame. However, through the long break The Greens from Athens held the advantage, with the scoreboard reading 41-44.
Panathinaikos seemed to have stolen all the momentum with a 16-18 winning third act, making it 57-62 through thirty minutes. However, the club has often faltered in the fourth quarter this season, and so it proved again as Olympiacos poured in 20 points and stopped the guests at 10 points to steal the win. The reigning champs had led for nearly all the game, but found themselves losing at the final buzzer.
A vintage scoring display from Vassilis Spanoulis saw the playmaker nail a game high 22 points, while Matt Lojeski plundered 16 points in the win.
James Feldeine paced the losing effort with 17 points, followed by Nick Calathes with 10 points.