Olympiakos has sealed a play-off spot and is almost certain to clinch home advantage in the process that leads to the Euroleague Final Four after beating Bamberg on Friday, while Panathinaikos suffered a third consecutive reverse, this time at Real Madrid on Thursday.
The Reds beat their jinx team 87-79 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium to score their 18th win in 25 matches and remain second at the table.
Bamberg challenged its host in the first half as it came from 10 points down to lead by two (42-40) just before the end of the first half, but the Piraeus team was far better in the second half.
The Reds opened a gap of 13 points (62-49) to make sure the German team of Nikos Zisis (two points, one assist) would not beat them for a sixth time in eight encounters.
Olympiakos has recently drawn fresh energy from the return of Kim Tillie from his injury, but Nikola Milutinov (16 points with 11/11 field goals) has been so consistent and efficient that he has managed to still the show from the usual suspects, Vassilis Spanoulis (17 points, eight assists) and Giorgos Printezis (16 points).
However the moment of the night came before the start, when Bamberg’s Italian guard Daniel Hackett, a former Olympiakos player, bent down and kissed the Olympiakos logo at the center of the court, to the ecstatic chants of the home fans that reverberated throughout the match.
Panathinaikos, on the other hand, was able to resist Real Madrid for only the first half in Spain, before going down 92-75 in the end for its 11th loss in 25 games.
Despite the absence of its outstanding star Luka Doncic due to an injury, Real Madrid was on top for most of the game, as Panathinaikos had serious problems in defense in the second half, and some of its key players underperformed such as Nick Calathes (who got injured on the head in the first half), Matt Lojeski, James Gist, Chris Singleton etc.
After a bright start for the Greens who led 20-15 late in the first quarter, Real edged ahead to advance 38-37 at half-time. In the second half the Spaniards seemed to score at will, with the Greeks unable to contain Fabien Causer (26 points) and Facundo Campazzo (15 points).
Mike James (23 points) was practically left alone in offense for Panathinaikos, with some support from KC Rivers (12 points) and Marcus Denmon (11).
The Greens need at least three wins in the five remaining games to make sure they will advance to the play-offs.
In the Basketball Champions League’s Round of 16, PAOK beat Karsiyaka 74-68 in Thessaloniki and AEK lost 98-88 in Athens to Nymburk.