Reds did only half of the job

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos beat visiting Caja Laboral in Piraeus on Friday but failed to beat the margin of its loss a couple of months ago in Spain, as it won by exactly the same score: 82-74.

The result means that should the two teams end this second Euroleague group stage level on points, they will only be separated by their overall goal average. Still, this was also the Greeks’ fifth win in eight games, one more than Caja Laboral’s four wins.

Olympiakos will feel sorry for missing the chance to effectively rule out the Basque team’s threat for beating it to the top four given that it had led by as many as 20 points in the game at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, but its sloppy defense in the last minute of the game cut its lead.

Caja Laboral seemed below its game on Friday as it was unable to threaten Olympiakos in earnest. With an imposing Acie Law, the European champion went ahead from the start and never let the double-digit lead it got from the second period slip, until the very last minute.

The Reds were sitting comfortably on their 78-58 lead three minutes from time. Consecutive three-pointers by Caja Laboral ate up half of the difference and when Olympiakos’s Pero Antic missed both his free throws with 12 seconds remaining, Heurtel capitalized through a lay-up for the Spanish team.

“It’s an important victory for the team, but in the end we let ourselves down a little because we lost that margin,” admitted Olympiakos forward Costas Papanikolaou. “When you lead by so much for so long just before the game ends, you may thing the match is over and you may relax, though no one had wanted thay to happen.”

Law scored 18 points, a season-high for him.

Olympiakos coach Giorgos Bartzokas did not include in his squad his new signing, Doron Perkins.