Olympiakos snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Olympiakos got within two seconds of clinching its spot in the Euroleague Final Four, but managed to let it slip for the time being as it went down 74-73 at Anadolu Efes on Friday.

It can still make the semifinals, though, if it beats the Turkish team in Piraeus next week in the last game of the best-of-five quarterfinal series, that is now tied at 2-2.

The Reds were considerably better in Game 4 than in Game 3 two days earlier, and looked like winning the game and the series after leading for most of the match in Istanbul.

A decent game by Costas Sloukas (10 points including two three-pointers) counterbalanced another poor performance by captain Vassilis Spanoulis, who made none out of his seven two- and three-pointers.

With a 20-12 lead after the first period and a six-point advantage at half-time (44-38), Olympiakos was dominant despite suffering in rebounds. And when the Turks edged ahead in the last period, Olympiakos regrouped and built a seven-point lead (73-66) that looked unassailable one-minute-and-a-half before the end.

That was not the case, though. Efes cut the distance to one point (73-72) and repeated errors in attack by Olympiakos allowed the host to have one last throw of the dice.

It took a former Olympiakos player, Jamon Lucas to score in unlikely fashion, by slapping the ball into the basket two seconds from time, for Efes to turn things around and earn an unexpected victory. This was always Olympiakos’s game to lose, and lose it did.

The European champion will now get the chance to make up for it at home next week, where it will be the favorite for its third and final win in the series.

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