Olympiakos and Aris lose in tight games for top spots

lympiakos lost 88-79 to CSKA Moscow last night after offering resistance against its host, last season’s losing finalist for the European title, in a Group A Euroleague game. The Piraeus basketball team, which started the game as joint leader in Group C along with CSKA, Montepaschi Siena, Tau Ceramica, and Union Olimpija – all on 2-1 records – led 62-61 at the end of the third quarter, but was overtaken in the final term. American guard Lynn Greer, who dominated the scoring for Olympiakos with 27 points, rose to the challenge of covering for his missing teammates Arvydas Macijauskas, the club’s top scorer so far this season, and Iakovos Tsakalidis, who were both sidelined by injury. Marc Jackson added a further 20 points. Greer, himself, however, was forced to abandon the game with three minutes to go in a contest that was far tighter than the final score suggests. With two minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock, CSKA held a slender four-point lead, 79-75. But four successful free throws from Ramunas Siskauskas – CSKA’s top scorer with 24 points – with just over two minutes to go, gave the hosts needed breathing space at 83-75. Thodoris Papaloukas contributed to CSKA’s victory with 14 points. Also last night, Thessaloniki club Aris lost 77-70 at Lietuvos Rytas in a battle for Group B’s top spot. Both started the game with 3-0 records. Despite trailing for most of the game, Aris persisted and outscored its Lithuanian host by 23-16 in the final period. Aris trailed by just one point, 71-70, with about a minute of play remaining before the hosts scored all of the game’s remaining six points. European champions Panathinaikos, Group C’s co-leader with three wins, host Barcelona, on a 2-1 record, tonight.