By George Georgakopoulos
Olympiakos scraped past Cedevita Zagreb with a 79-77 score at home on Friday for the Euroleague but showed it has to improve its game considerably if it is to make at least the next stage of Europe’s top club competition.
The Reds, who played without Joey Dorsey after he left the club, turned what would have been an easy home win into a nervous and narrow victory, as the ghost of the home loss to Zalgiris a week earlier haunted the European champions again.
After an unconvincing first half by the Greek team that saw it lead by seven (42-35), the visitors used their front line to cover the deficit and take a seven–point lead themselves (65-58) in the last period.
Olympiakos had a poor shooting rate throughout the game, but two three-pointers by Vassilis Spanoulis and Costas Sloukas at that point of the match cut the distance to 65-64, with the Croats leading for the last time at 74-72.
Lack of experience cost the Zagreb side of coach Bozidar Maljkovic, who also had influential forward Luksa Andric fouled out.
Spanoulis led Olympiakos to its second victory in four group games scoring 21 points, while Sloukas’s scoring in the fourth period was precious for the Reds.
Olympiakos coach Giorgos Bartzokas can at least look forward to the help by Josh Powell, the 2.06-meter forward whom the Piraeus team signed on Friday for two seasons as a replacement for Dorsey.