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Olympiakos mathematically reaches Euroleague play-offs

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

The more Olympiakos gets closer to a top-four finish in the Euroleague, the more Panathinaikos drifts away from it, as the Reds beat Darussafaka on Friday after the Greens lost at Zalgiris on Thursday.

Olympiakos thrashed its Turkish visitor 81-73 to mathematically qualify to the play-offs as it cannot finish outside the top-eight anymore, with five games left to play in the regular season.

The Piraeus team scored its 18th win in 25 games imposing its game on Darussafaka from the outset, leading 25-18 after the first quarter and 48-33 at half-time.

The Turkish team made a decent effort for a comeback in the second half, cutting the distance from 21 points (62-41) down to four (71-67), but Olympiakos made its home advantage count in the end to win by eight points.

Khem Birch notched up 13 points and Matt Lojeski another 12.

Panathinaikos, on the other hand, wasted another chance for an away win, this time going down 64-58 at Zalgiris Kaunas. At least the other results went its way so that it still harbors some hope of rising from joint fifth to fourth by the end of the regular season.

In Lithuania Panathinaikos had a very good first half, containing its host to just 19 points (19-31 at half-time) and held on to a seven-point lead by the end of the third quarter (34-41). However it fell apart in the last quarter of the game, conceding 30 points to lose by six for its 11th defeat in 25 games.

As a team that typically lives and dies by its three-pointers, its 16.7 percent rate outside the 6.75-meter line on the night was never going to help Panathinaikos, that relied too much on Chris Singleton (scorer of 11 points in 35 minutes played).

Nikos Pappas stood out for his contribution in defense and attack with 13 points scored.

In the FIBA Champions League all three Greek teams got eliminated from the competition. AEK lost 95-87 at Monaco, PAOK suffered an 80-54 reverse at Spanish league leader Tenerife and Aris surrendered to Villeurbanne (81-67).

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