Greece’s Euroleague stars enjoyed three wins on Thursday and Friday, as besides the home victories of Olympiakos over Armani Milano on Thursday and Panathinaikos over Red Star Belgrade, a number of players from the two Greek clubs played for the national team instead, helping it beat Turkey for the World Cup qualifiers on Friday.
It was actually a pair of free throws by Olympiakos’ Kostas Papanikolaou three seconds from the buzzer that gave Greece a 72-71 home win over Turkey at Ano Liossia, as the significance of the encounter convinced Greece’s two representatives in the Euroleague to release some of their top players for the national team.
Yet they still managed to win both their games.
Olympiakos made the most of its strong finish in the game against Armani Milano and won 67-58 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The Italian visitors in Piraeus led for most of the match, but when the Greeks leveled things up in the last period there was no going back. Olympiakos scored 28 in the last period after making just 39 in the first 30 minutes, and had its defense contain Armani to just 58, a major achievement in itself for the hosts.
Sasha Vezenkov and Kostas Sloukas made 16 points each for Olympiakos, that is now on a 15-9 record.
Panathinaikos recorded a second consecutive Euroleague win, and its seventh all season in 24 matches, beating Red Star 79-73 in Athens.
Even without many of their key players on the night the Greens fended off the challenge of the Belgrade team – though they did have a former Red Star player, Nemanja Nedovic, who produced another stunning game to pace the Greek champion with 25 points and lead it to victory. Vassilis Kavvadas was also instrumental with 17 points and six rebounds.
The result is particularly important for Panathinaikos, not only because it’s come five days after the Cup final loss, but also because it means the Greens are now given an outside chance of even reaching the play-offs if the three Russian teams fall victim of any sanctions.