SPORTS

Olympiakos keeps Euroleague in Greek hands for third year

Olympiakos won the second consecutive and third overall Euroleague title on Sunday defeating Real Madrid 100-88 in the final in London on Sunday after coming from 17 points down.

This is also the third straight season that a Greek team has won the European crown after Panathinaikos in 2011 and Olympiakos in 2012.

In an unusually high-scoring final, in the very way that suited Olympiakos, the Reds took victory not by strangling their opponent’s attack, as they had done in Friday’s semifinal against CSKA Moscow, but by beating Real Madrid in pace, teamwork and scoring in the second, third and fourth periods of the game.

Real Madrid actually had a tremendous first quarter sinking in one three-pointer after another (five out of six), to lead 27-10 after the first 10 minutes of the game as Olympiakos had no answer to the tight defense of the Spaniards.

The Greeks, however, stormed into the second quarter by turning far more prolific in attack and frustrating Real Madrid most of the times. They started off with eight unanswered points (27-18) and kept eating into the Real lead ending the first half four points behind (41-37).

The third period started with Olympiakos taking the lead (48-45) thanks to three consecutive three-pointers by hitherto scoreless Vassilis Spanoulis and stretched its advantage to 54-48 thanks to its tight defense.

Yet just like in the semifinal against Barcelona on Friday, Real Madrid raised its game led by Felipe Reyes and Marcus Slaughter to regain the upper hand with an 8-1 partial score (56-55) after 27 minutes.

The last quarter began with another crescendo by Olympiakos who went ahead by eight (70-62). Real chose a shorter and quicker team but even this was not enough to contain the fast game of the Greeks who advanced by 14 (84-70).

In the last few minutes Olympiakos maintained its lead to take his 5,500 fans at the stands of the O2 Arena to heaven.

Giorgos Bartzokas has therefore become the first Greek coach ever to win the Euroleague.

Spanoulis was the top scorer for Olympiakos with 22 points, all of them in the second half, followed by Acie Law with 20, Kyle Hines with 12, Costas Sloukas with 11, Pero Antic and Stratos Perperoglou with 10 each, Costas Papanikolaou and Giorgos Printezis with five points each, Giorgi Shermadini with three and Josh Powell with two. Dimitris Katsivelis played without scoring.

“This is a great joy for all Greeks in the tough period everyone is having at home,” said Spanoulis.