SPORTS

Printezis sends Olympiakos to the Final Four

A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Giorgos Printezis saw Olympiakos through to the Final Four of the Euroleague, as the Reds defeated Barcelona 71-68 on Thursday to claim the best-of-five quarterfinal series with a 3-1 score.

The Peace and Friendship Stadium erupted like a volcano as in the last attack of the game, with the score at 68-68, Costas Sloukas made a no-look assist to Printezis who executed for three to win the game for the hosts and send the players, the team officials and the crowd wild.

It followed repeated comebacks by Olympiakos that faced an improved Barcelona compared to Game 3 two days earlier. The Catalans led for most of the game in Piraeus, with their advantage stretching as far as 10 points at the start of the second half (39-29), after a 37-29 half-time score.

Olympiakos leveled things up by the end of the third quarter (50-50) but had to play catch-up again, trailing 65-61 with one minute left. Crucial shots by Vangelis Mantzaris and Printezis put the Reds in the driving seat (66-65) and a great jump shot by Vassilis Spanoulis saw the host lead 68-67 eight seconds from time.

Juan Carlos Navarro made one free throw that would have sent the match to overtime, but Printezis became the hero on his name day to return Olympiakos to the Euroleague Final Four after a year’s absence.

Spanoulis, who was Olympiakos’s top scorer on the night with 17 points, has now become the second highest scorer in Euroleague history.

In the semifinals in Madrid next month Olympiakos will face the conqueror of Panathinaikos, CSKA Moscow.