Greek teams swept their opponents with five wins in as many European games this week, as Olympiakos and Panathinaikos boosted their chances for a high finish at the Euroleague group stage.
Even without captain Vassilis Spanoulis, who stayed in Greece to avoid aggravating his slight injury ahead of the crunch Cup game with Panathinaikos on Monday, Olympiakos managed to beat Barcelona in Spain (69-67) on Thursday for only the second time in its history.
The Reds’ third straight win in Europe was built around Giorgos Printezis who scored 16 points and collected nine rebounds. When it really mattered and with the score tied at 67-67, it was Vangelis Mantzaris who made both free throws seven seconds from the end to win the game for the Greek champion.
That was the Reds’ 12th win in 17 games that keeps them in second. A win at home next week against Baskonia should mean a top-four finish in the regular season, which means home advantage for the play-offs.
Panathinaikos did it the hard way, beating Anadolu Efes 92-81 in overtime on Friday, giving the Turks a taste of their own medicine, as Efes had defeated the Greens in the second overtime earlier this season.
The Greeks led for most of the game but were so error-prone that Efes managed to edge ahead 68-65 just before the end, when Mike James of Panathinaikos scored five consecutive free throws to force overtime (70-70). The hosts had KC Rivers (23 points) and Kenny Gabriel (10 points) leading them to victory in the overtime, their 10th in 17 matches.
Alessandro Gentile was also outstanding (15 points, five rebounds in 24 minutes), showing he is settling well in Athens.
In the FIBA Champions League, two rounds of games before the end of the group stage, all three Greek teams won at home and are hoping to make the next round: Aris downed Nymburk 83-79, AEK defeated Ludwigsburg 82-72 and PAOK saw off Neptunas Klaipeda 82-73.