Greece’s two teams in the Euroleague stumbled on their return to the competition after Christmas on Thursday, as Olympiakos lost to Zalgiris in Lithuania and Panathinaikos suffered an unexpected reverse to Valencia in Spain.
Depleted Olympiakos went down 74-68 at Kaunas as its available players could not sustain the lead the Piraeus team enjoyed in the first three quarters.
Playing without Nikola Milutinov, Giorgos Printezis and Dimitris Agravanis among others, the Reds advanced 38-36 at half-time and 53-48 after the third period, but the Lithuanians were definitely the better team in the deciding quarter when they scored a partial 26-15.
Olympiakos paid for its numerous turnovers (15 against Zalgiris’s six) and was unable to turn the tables in the end, suffering its fourth loss in 15 games. It finished the first half of the regular season in second.
Ioannis Papapetrou scored 13 points for the Reds, and Costas Papanikolaou added another 11.
Panathinaikos allowed a game it should have won to slip through its collective fingers, as it gave away a 10-point third-quarter lead (36-46) to lose 67-63 at Valencia.
The Greens led for most of the game in Spain but suffered from their poor shooting rate in the last 13 minutes, with the absence of Nick Calathes being more than obvious, allowing host Valencia to snatch victory after 10 consecutive losses.
The 17 points of Matt Lojeski and the 13 rebounds by Chris Singleton were not enough for Panathinaikos to defend its lead and catch up with Olympiakos at the table. The result has taken the Greek champion to a 10-5 record.
The injury to Nikos Pappas added to coach Xavi Pascual’s concerns after the match.