SPORTS

The end is nigh for Reds and Greens

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Basketball

Olympiakos and Panathinaikos are one step from missing out on this season’s Euroleague Final Four after suffering away losses to Zalgiris and Real Madrid respectively. They both trail their opponents by 2-1 wins in the best-of-five series and later this week they face another game on the road, which if they lose will spell the end of their European season.

Olympiakos did not match expectations in Lithuania in Tuesday and went down 80-60 to an ever-improving Zalgiris.

Brian Roberts led the Reds to a good start at Kaunas, leading 10-4 with eight points by the US guard, but he surprisingly got substituted and the Greek side went from bad to worse ever after.

Zalgiris turned things around quickly and led 47-36 at half-time, easily taking the game beyond its visitor amid a fantastic atmosphere at the stands.

Neither Nikola Milutinov nor Giorgos Printezis were in full fitness, and the absence of their energy cost the Reds dearly. Vassilis Spanoulis scored 14 points and Roberts another 11.

Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday and Olympiakos will have to change its game dramatically to have any hopes of staying in the competition.

Panathinaikos pushed Real all the way in Madrid on Wednesday, but some poor shooting in the end and some terrible referee calls that went Real’s way forced the Greens to go down 81-74. However a slight improvement in Friday’s Game 4 should suffice against this mediocre Real.

In the first half it was all neck-and-neck, with the Spaniards being unable to build a lead beyond the six points of the half-time score (40-34), after the Greens had led 29-28.

A bad start in the second half saw Panathinaikos trail by 13 (50-37), but it quickly recovered and went into the last couple of minutes with a level score (70-70).

However, for all the great efforts by Nick Calathes and James Gist, the last few decisions in Panathinaikos’s offense and by the referees led to a seven-point loss that could have easily been very different on the night.

Calathes made 26 points, Gist had 15 and Mike James scored 14.

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