The Greek A1 semi-finals moved into Game 2 on Thursday and Friday, giving both Olympiacos and Panathinaikos the chance to take 2-0 leads in their respective ties. The two giants of Greek Basketball delivered as the fierce rivals both picked up wins to take another huge stride to a championship showdown.
It has been business as usual for Olympiacos and Panathinaikos throughout the playoffs and the clubs looked serene to leave themselves just one game from a finals berth. In Game 2, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Aris Thessaloniki 92-57 and Panathinaikos Athens downed PAOK 75-61 in a high stakes Athens derby.
Olympiacos vs. Aris Thessaloniki, 92-57
The Reds swept aside the visitors from Thessaloniki and after the 98-53 result in Game 1 there is clearly a gulf in class between the two clubs. Olympiacos (coming off a losing Euroleague final) has looked dangerous and here the Piraeus club performed solidly in the key, grabbing 46 points in the paint compared to 26 points from Aris. The series moves to Thessaloniki next, but really home court advantage does not seem enough for Aris to claw its way back into the picture.
Olympiacos dominated the first quarter, setting a marker for the rest of the game with a 24-13 run which gave The Reds a healthy first quarter lead. In the second frame the hosts continued to dominate both posts and thanks to a 23-11 lead the deficit was sizeable at halftime (47-24). With a 20+ point cushion, Olympiacos was in cruise control, and even had more gears to move into. Indeed, the team put on a huge third quarter where they plundered 31 points to Aris’ 12 points, making it 78-36. The visitors had been properly thrashed, but as Olympiacos wound down the game the travellers did manage to steal the fourth quarter, although the damage had long been done.
Georgios Printezis topped the scoring charts for the winning team with 14 points, while Matt Lojeski and Brent Petway both hit 13 points. Vassilis Spanoulis chipped in with 12 points.
Aleksandar Vezenkov was the game’s best scorer with 17 points for the losing side, followed by Torey Thomas with 15 points.
Panathinaikos Athens vs. PAOK Athens, 75-61
Panathinaikos also held home court advantage as it clashed with fellow Athens outfit PAOK on Thursday, although The Greens were made to labour for their win. PAOK run their more illustrious city-mates close in the first half, before Panathinaikos’ superior hoops started to tell and the club pulled away in the second half. While the home team took a 2-0 lead, PAOK may have a door back into the series as the tie moves to their court next.
Panathinaikos started the game strong and soon had a good lead, taking a 24-14 advantage into the first break in play. PAOK put together a really solid quarter of Basketball to get back into the contest, streaming 22 points in the second period. The visitors also went big in defence and stopped Panathinaikos at just 8 points to make it 32-36, the away team in charge. The hosts didn’t back down though and in the third act The Greens drained 25 points to PAOK’s 10, swinging the tie once more through thirty minutes, the scoreboard reading 57-46.
Panathinaikos had struck at the right time and managed to close the game out with an 18-15 winning fourth quarter.
Loukas Mavrokefalidis scored the most for Panathinaikos with 16 points, while he recorded a double-double thanks to 13 rebounds. Antonis Fostis found net for 14 points and added 8 boards, while Eleftherios Bochoridis scored 11 points in the win.
Marc Antonio Carter was the game’s best basket grabber with 20 points for the losing effort, while Kevin Langford aided with 11 points.