Olympiakos will defend its European crown in London next month after beating Anadolu Efes 82-72 on Friday to win the Euroleague quarterfinal series 3-2 and make the competition’s Final-Four.
The 10-point margin may deceive anyone who has not watched the game, as it was the visitors at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus that led for more than half of the 40 minutes of play.
The first half was a very difficult period for the Reds, who felt that the pressure of the capacity crowd was wearing them down. At one point the Greek champion had just 13 percent in three-pointers (two out of 15) as the athletic Turks contained their hosts when defending while running rings around them at times when attacking.
Efes led by 15 points twice in the first half, 36-21 and 38-23 and finished the first half eight points ahead (41-33).
The Turks looked like pulling away again at the start of the third period, advancing by 12 (47-35), but that was when the great comeback of Olympiakos started.
With a partial score of 16-3, the Reds edged ahead 51-50, with the third quarter ending 55-54 in favor of Efes.
In the last quarter Olympiakos was far better than Efes, leading 66-59, and when the Turks scored eight unanswered points to advance 67-66, the Greeks scored one three-pointer after another (for a total of 10 out of 32) to take the game beyond their visitors in the last few minutes.
Greek internationals Vassilis Spanoulis (19 points) and Giorgos Printezis (15 points) led the scoring for Olympiakos, who will travel to London for the Final-Four on May 10-12.
In the semifinal at the O2 Arena on May 10 the European champion will face last season’s beaten finalist, CSKA Moscow.