Chima Moneke and Tadas Sedekerskis helped Baskonia turn the game around after it slumped early.
Moneke, Sedekerskis bring 'Baskonia Character' back
The Round 7 game between Olympiacos Piraeus and Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz was a back-and-forth battle in which both teams blew double-digit leads along the way. At the end of it, Baskonia beat Olympiacos 74-75.
Codi Miller-McIntyre was the hero after sinking the game-winning jumper, just his second basket of the night. He took Isaiah Canaan one-on-one, stopped, popped and buried a six-meter jumper with 0.7 seconds left.
Olympiacos opened the game with a 13-2 run and had a comfortable 20-9 margin late in the first quarter. Chima Moneke came off the bench and immediately made things happen. He almost singlehandedly brought Baskonia within 26-20 after 10 minutes. After that, Moneke led Baskonia to arguably its best quarter so far this season.
Vanja Marinkovic provided the fireworks with consecutive three-pointers and Tadas Sedekerskis was all over the place, reaching halftime with 8 points and 8 rebounds. Baskonia outpowered the Reds with physical defense and that led to open shots on offense. At halftime, Baskonia led 35-50. Moneke (16) and Sedekerkis (15) combined for a higher PIR than the entire Olympiacos team (27).
Olympiacos desperately needed a go-to guy and found one in Isaiah Canaan, who had 14 third-quarter points. The Reds improved their defense, pushed by an incredible crowd, and matched Baskonia's physicality. Alec Peters completed the hosts' comeback with a big three-pointer, 72-71, with less than 3 minutes remaining.
That's when Baskonia brought out its trademark character, forcing Olympiacos into back-to-back turnovers. Matt Costello had a big block on Canaan already in the final minute and even when Giannoulis Larentzakis put Olympiacos in charge. Miller-McIntyre had the final word.
"It is a good feeling, and I am proud of the way we played today. Olympiacos played extremely amazing in the second half but we stayed together as a team," Miller-McIntyre said after the game. Asked about how sure he was to hit the final shot, he didn't hesitate: "100%".
"I pride myself on energy. If someone asks me what type of player am I, the first word that I always say is energy-bringer. And I feel like I made the difference today. And I just want to be able to help my team win more games," Moneke said after the game. "I think this feels better than a 20-point win because it shows that we have character. The crowd got back into the game and we were able to withstand that."
Moneke missed just one shot on his way to 20 points and a PIR of 28. Sedekerskis matched a career-high in rebounds, 13, and got 12 points for a double-double.
Most importantly, Baskonia is 2-0 since Coach Dusko Ivanovic returned and plays 5 of its next 7 games at Buesa Arena.
"We are going to grow from this, we are going to learn," Moneke said. "It is a long season, people wrote us off and we listened to those."