Both Olympiakos and Panathnaikos will need to score an away win next week to stay alive in the chase for a Euroleague Final-Four spot, as both of their best-of-five series are tied at 1-1, with the Greens losing to Real Madrid on Thursday at home and the Reds beating Zalgiris in Piraeus on Friday.
Olympiakos was determined to level its series with Zalgiris after losing on Wednesday and triumphed 79-68 on Friday at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, ahead of two games at Kaunas next Tuesday and Thursday.
The Reds were dominant for three out of the four quarters of the game, as this time they got some precious help from Jamel McLean, the game’s top scorer with 21 points for Olympiakos.
After getting a nine-point lead in the first half (41-32), the hosts saw Zalgiris get back into the game equalizing 54-54 by the 30th minute, only to bounce back from the start of the fourth period to win comfortably in the end.
Despite the absence of Nikola Milutinov, the Olympiakos frontline did some great job in defense, getting 23 defensive rebounds while Zalgiris could only get two offensive ones – at the other end the Reds secured 11 offensive rebs.
Besides McLean, Vassilis Spanoulis was very efficient with 17 points in 21 minutes.
The Piraeus team will hope that missing Milutinov in Lithuania, too, next week will not prevent them from scoring an all-important win there.
Panathinaikos lost 89-82 to a very different Real Madrid to the team that lost by 28 points in Game 1 two days earlier at the same court.
The Greens owe their home loss to a terrible third quarter when they conceded 32 points, swinging the game from the 40-36 advantage to a 68-61 deficit.
Real dominated two particular domains, the triples (55 percent against Panathinaikos’s 27 percent) and rebounds (43 against just 24).
Every time Panathinaikos tried a comeback (68-68, 78-80), the Spaniards restored their lead and held on to it till the end.
Mike James had 20 points and Adreian Payne added another 13. The Greek defense held superstar Luka Doncic to just eight points, all from free throws, with 0/3 field goals, but it was Felipe Reyes and Jaycee Carroll did the job for Real.
The over 18,000 Panathinaikos fans will hope that their team snatches at least one win in Madrid on Wednesday or Friday next week so as to bring the series back to Athens for Game 5.