SPORTS

Olympiakos faces CSKA Moscow in decider for Final Four berth

Olympiakos is hosted by CSKA Moscow tonight in a do-or-die affair for both teams, now one win away from a place in the Euroleague’s Final Four. The Piraeus team stunned the Russian title favorites in last week’s opening game in Moscow but CSKA rebounded in the second game of the series in Greece two days later. Making it to the Final Four tournament in Madrid would be a huge accomplishment for the Greek team, a former European champion in 1997 which last reached the stage nine years ago. Besides having to overcome CSKA’s home stadium advantage, Olympiakos will also need to deal with the Euroleague’s most experienced side. However, defeat for the Piraeus club would not spell catastrophe. By taking this best-of-three quarterfinal series into a third game, Olympiakos, a team that fell short of convincing itself and fans earlier in the season under previous coach Pini Gershon, has already exceeded expectations. «After four games this season, the two teams know each other very well and I think that there is no room for surprises. Patience, concentration and having a clear mind are the keys for both teams to win the game and make the Final Four,» said coach Panayiotis Yiannakis. «We missed those things in the second match and lost to CSKA. Now, we have become wiser and return to Moscow to play 40 minutes, maybe more, and to fight for qualification. Grabbing rebounds, setting the tempo and avoiding turnovers are our top priorities. I think that the winner of this series will learn a lot of things and can use them in the Final Four,» he continued. Olympiakos and CSKA share the victories in their four encounters this season. CSKA, which has reached the Final Four every season for the last six years, will seek to avoid the mistakes that cost it a home defeat in this quarterfinal series’s opening game. «We’re at the most crucial point of the season. This game is a final. Olympiakos can inflict damage,» warned CSKA’s Theodoris Papaloukas, formerly of Olympiakos. «The game in Greece will be our guide. We need to play equally strong in defense, from the first to the last minute.»