Red hoopsters reach Final Four

Olympiakos has qualified to the seventh Euroleague Final Four in its history after seeing off Monte Paschi Siena with 76-69 score at home on Friday night to win the best-of-five quarterfinal series 3-1.

The Reds made their home advantage tell with two wins within two days, having also won Game 2 in Italy, to become an unlikely semifinalist given the budget cut and the departure of a number of players last summer.

Playing in front of a full house at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus Olympiakos felt the pressure and spent almost half of the game trailing its Italian visitor, who led 39-38 at half-time.

Siena seemed more determined at times and got to stretch its lead to five points (55-50) late in the third period.

That was when the Reds starting fighting back, and went six points ahead (61-55) through a partial 11-0 score, led by an inspiring Vassilis Spanoulis and an instrumental Kyle Hines, who ended the game with 19 points each.

Even when Siena scored six consecutive free throws to level the score at 61-61, it was clear that the Italian team had huge problems in attack and had a hard time scoring with its haphazard efforts.

A three-pointer by ever-improving Costas Sloukas brought the hosts? lead up to eight (72-64) and despite the single-handed effort by Nikos Zisis, the Siena guard, to turn things around, Olympiakos held on for the victory that confirmed it as the third team to advance to the Final Four in Istanbul in May, after Barcelona and CSKA Moscow.

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