Panathinaikos and Olympiakos are heading to next week’s all-Greek clash in the Euroleague in top form, after thrashing visiting Baskonia and Armani Milano respectively this week.
With NCAA legendary coach Rick Pitino returning to its bench on Thursday, Panathinaikos dismantled Baskonia with a 100-68 score at the Olympic Sports Hall to move to a 7-4 record.
More than just the 32-point margin, the picture of a relentless team that defended and attacked in impeccable fashion for almost the entire game bodes particularly well for the future of the Greek champion, that has made it three wins in a row in the Euroleague.
The 12,000 fans at the stands welcomed back Pitino with amazing warmth and celebrated a night of spectacular plays that often had the Basques wondering how to stop the Greeks from scoring at will.
The 17/18 rate in free throws, after seeing rates such as 50 percent earlier this season, shows that the Greens have undergone a mentality change after the departure of former coach Argyris Pedoulakis.
Jimmer Fredette led the scoring with 21 points, with another 15 coming from DeShaun Thomas.
Olympiakos seems to have recovered from a very bad start to the season, as its 91-70 victory over Armani at the Peace and Friendship Stadium was its fifth in 11 Euroleague games so far.
Armani was the better team for most of the first half, leading by up to five points (35-30), but that proved to be the game’s turning point: Olympiakos tidied up its game by bolstering its defense, led by an impressive Costas Papanikolaou, advanced 40-37 by half-time with a partial 10-2 score and never looked back.
The 0/9 three-pointers in the first period were followed by an amazing 8/12 in the rest of the game, helping Olympiakos beat Armani in its own game of fast offense and distance shots. It is clear that the recent additions to the Olympiakos roster have improved the Piraeus team considerably.
Papanikolaou had 17 points for the team of coach Kestutis Kemzura, flanked by Vassilis Spanoulis with 14 and Nikola Milutinov with 13 plus 11 rebounds.