Barcelona puts Reds' qualification at risk

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos suffered its second win in three games at the second group stage of the Euroleague going down at home to Barcelona 81-72 on Thursday.

The Reds surrendered their perfect home record to the Catalans who dominated the game only in the second half at the full-to-capacity Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus.

The host had a solid start to the game, advancing 23-18 after the first period and holding a 34-32 lead at half-time, but Barcelona had Juan Carlos Navarro in one of those nights that made him a European basketball legend in the past as he scored 21 points in total.

The “Blaugrana” took the lead from the start of the third period (that ended 55-48 in their favor) and never allowed it to slip through their fingers, even when Olympiakos came within two points (66-64).

Some poor choices in attack by Olympiakos and the Greeks’ inability to contain Barcelona when it really mattered cost Olympiakos the victory that would have written off the 30-point drabbing at the hands of Armani Milano a week earlier.

Vassilis Spanoulis and Giorgos Printezis notched up 17 points each for Olympiakos.

Former Olympiakos player Costas Papanikolaou played for over 20 minutes but scored no more than just two points for Barcelona.

It appears that Olympiakos is going out of form at the worst possible moment, with its fourth loss since December 23 in all competitions, while on Monday it visits Panathinaikos for the Greek league. It now has to beat Laboral Kutxa on the road next week to have any genuine hopes of making the knock-out stages of the Euroleague, having already bowed out of the Greek Cup and all but lost the top spot in the league.

In the Eurocup Panionios lost 93-62 at Bilbao Basket in Spain on Tuesday.