SPORTS

Breathtaking match sees the Reds end losing streak to the Greens

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos won a classic Greek derby for the Euroleague beating Panathinaikos 87-85 away to put an end to its five-game losing streak in all competitions against its Eternal Rival. The result keeps Olympiakos second at the table and takes Panathinaikos down to seventh.

The spectacular match at the Olympic Sports Hall was decided in overtime as there was little separating the two teams on Friday night.

Brian Roberts led the Reds to a hot second and third period, during which the visitors advanced by up to 13 points (43-34 at half-time).

Panathinaikos tightened up its defense in the last quarter, during which it turned a 62-50 deficit to a 71-70 lead, but could not grab victory as the match went to overtime (71-71).

When influential James Gist (21 points, six rebounds) got fouled out early on in overtime, Nick Calathes was practically left alone to face the Olympiakos defense, but his 23 points and 10 assists were not enough on the night.

What Panathinaikos lost in its rebound deficit (32-46), it made up for through its assist supremacy (20-10). Olympiakos had a problem with turnovers, but the performances of Roberts (18 points, 5/5 field goals) as well as Vassilis Spanoulis (15 points), who at times seemed unstoppable, kept the Greens at bay in front of 20,000 of their fans. The Reds were more composed in the end and won it by two.

The return of Mike James (3/10 FG) has not helped Panathinaikos yet, while the return of Kim Tilli from injury has assisted Olympiakos improve its defense, contributing five rebounds and a block on the night.

In case the two teams end up with the same points at the end of the regular season, Panathinaikos will have a superior head-to-head record. However Olympiakos is now on 17 wins against Panathinaikos’s 14, and has probably done enough to clinch the home advantage for the play-offs.

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