SPORTS

Triumph for Reds, tragedy for Greens

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos has returned to the second spot of the Euroleague table with an impressive win over champion Fenerbahce on Thursday, while Panathinaikos went down at Bamberg to put its top-four place at risk.

Olympiakos produced a win just when it needed it most to emerge from a difficult period, after going down at Panathinaikos for the league. It did so in style, beating Fenerbahce by 25 (95-70), to double its wins over the Turks after beating them in Istanbul too.

With Vassilis Spanoulis back to his prime, creating and executing alike, and Vangelis Mantzaris finally meeting his coach’s expectations, the Reds distanced themselves from Fener from early in the game.

A breathtaking rate in triples (76.5 percent overall) led Olympiakos to a stunning 34-18 score in the first period. Fener cut the distance to 45-36 by half-time, but there was definitely no way back for the visitors as Olympiakos made 50 points in the second half.

The Greeks scored free triples from everywhere thanks to their teamwork that had the Turkish team at a loss. And that’s what it got on the night at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.

Spanoulis and Janis Strelnieks made 19 points each to lead the scoring chart, as the Reds are now on 14 wins from 21 games.

Panathinaikos seemed to lack the necessary energy in defense to beat a depleted Bamberg, that won 95-74 in Germany. This leaves the Greek champion with a mountain to climb if it is to regain a place granting it home advantage for the play-offs.

After a defensive shortfall in the first half, when Bamberg advanced 42-32, the Greens were led by Nick Calathes to a third-period fight back to advanced 52-51. Bamberg responded to restore its 10-point lead (65-55) and as Panathinaikos crumbled in attack too it went 18 ahead (82-64) to banish any comeback prospect for the Greeks.

Calathes scored a Euroleague career-high of 31 points, but that was certainly not enough for the Greens, who are on a 13-8 record.

In the Basketball Champions League AEK won 80-71 Olimpija Ljubljana, PAOK thrashed Neptunas Klaipeda 91-70 at home and Aris lost 79-66 at Avellino.

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