Greece’s representatives in the Euroleague put two over Russia’s on Greek soil, as depleted Olympiakos stunned CSKA once again and Panathinaikos saw off Zenit.
Olympiakos should be officially considered the European champion’s jinx team, as CSKA Moscow lost another game to its perennial nemesis, with a 72-59 score on Thursday at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The Piraeus team held the Russians to just 59 points despite playing without its two most influential players, Vassilis Spanoulis – whose leg injury has ruled him out for the rest of the season – and Giorgos Printezis.
After a balanced first half (34-33 in CSKA’s favor), the hosts’ defense handcuffed the Moscow team for a partial 21-4 score in the third quarter and held on in the last period to complete the double over the Euroleague holder this season. It appears CSKA has developed some sort of an inferiority complex against this Greek team.
Costas Papanikolaou was impressive, tirelessly playing 37 minutes and scoring 19 points, while Nikola Milutinov made 11 points and collected 12 rebounds.
The Reds are now 12th on the table with 10 wins and 14 defeats.
Panathinaikos defeated the league’s bottom team, Zenit St Petersburg, 96-81 on Friday in Athens, but had another defensive performance that left much to be desired.
The Greens dominated rebounds (40 against 24) to make up for their numerous turnovers (20) and the poor spell that captain Nick Calathes continues to undergo.
They stormed into the game leading 32-11 after 11 minutes, but allowed the Russians back into it: Within seven minutes Zenit had reduced its arrears to just two points (42-40), though that was as close as they managed to get.
In the third period Panathinaikos appeared more focused on the game; led by DeShaun Thomas (27 points, 5/6 triples), it pulled away once again to avoid what could have been a very costly upset at home.
This was the 14th win in 24 games for the Greek champion that seems destined to finish sixth, although there remain 10 more games to play.