Olympiakos set to snatch playoff advantage

Reds beat Panathinaikos by five and will finish top in the regular season

Olympiakos has all but secured the top spot of the regular season in the OPAP Basket League after downing archrival Panathinaikos 72-67 at home on Monday to create a two-point gap between them at the top of the table.

The Greens started off on top, leading 11-4 and 22-20 at the end of the first quarter, but Olympiakos – boosted by a capacity crowd at the Peace and Friendship Stadium – turned things around to lead 38-33 at half-time as the visitor had serious problems in attack once Sofoklis Schortsanitis conceded fouls.

In the second half, despite a rather poor showing by its captain Vassilis Spanoulis (with two out of 11 field goals), Olympiakos dominated play under the basket collecting numerous offensive rebounds and never allowing Panathinaikos to come back into the game. Its lead stretched to as many as 11 points (67-56) before Panathinaikos covered some of the distance toward the end, in what generally was an unusually peaceful encounter.

Acie Law notched up 12 points for the Reds, while Panathinaikos captain Dimitris Diamantidis was the game’s top scorer with 17 points.

The two sides will meet again six days later, as on Sunday they will fight it out for the Greek Cup in the final at Elliniko.

The league also enjoyed some very close games over the weekend, with AGO Rethymnou snatching victory at Aris with a 73-71 score and PAOK returning from Athens with an 85-80 win over Ikaros.

In other games, Apollon Patras beat KAO Dramas 101-88 away from home in overtime, Kavala edged out fellow struggler Panelefsiniakos 68-66 at home, Panionios thrashed host Peristeri 91-69 and Kolossos put an end to Ilisiakos’s winning streak with a 71-63 score on Rhodes.