Olympiacos downed Power Electronics Valencia 77-62 led by Rasho Nesterovic
Olympiacos took a critical showdown in Top 16 Group H by downing Power Electronics Valencia 77-62 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, on Wednesday night. Olympiacos is now in sole possession of second place in Group H with a 2-1 record, while Valencia dropped to 1-2. Olympiacos will reach the Top 16 - and Power Electronics will be mathematically out - if it wins in Valencia and Fenerbahce Ulker (3-0) beats Zalgiris (0-3) in Kaunas in Week 4. Rasho Nesterovic paced the winners with 17 points on 8-of-10 two-point shooting. Vassilis Spanoulis added 14 points, Ioannis Bourousis had 11 and Theo Papaloukas tallied 8 points and 9 assists for the Reds. Victor Claver led Valencia with 16 points. Dusko Savanovic added 13, Robertas Javtokas had 12 and Serhiy Lishchuk 10 for the reigning Eurocup champions. Spanoulis led a 10-0 run that allowed Olympiacos to get an 18-12 edge after 10 minutes. The Reds improved their ball circulation in the second quarter and as many as six players scored at least 5 points in the first half, allowing the Reds to get a safe 38-24 margin at the break. A 10-0 run that Matt Nielsen capped with a six-meter jumper broke the game open, 48-32, as Olympiacos managed to keep a double-digit lead all the way until the final buzzer.
Javtokas got Valencia going with a hook shot that Nielsen erased with an easy basket. Marko Keselj took over with a fast break dunk, but Claver scored twice in transition for a 4-6 Valencia lead. The guests locked the defensive boards early and did not allow open shots. Meanwhile, a floating layup by Savanovic capped a 0-6 Valencia run. Nielsen scored in the low post and free throws by Milos Teodosic tied it at 8-8. Claver nailed a six-meter jumper, as the guests improved their defensive aggressiveness with James Augustine and Lishchuk coming off the bench. Olympiacos lacked ball circulation, so it started to attack the basket. Spanoulis sank foul shots and fed Bourousis for a layup, good for a 12-10 lead. Keselj shined with a three-pointer and Spanoulis scored off an inbounds steal to make Valencia stop the game at 18-10, after a 10-0 run. A put-back basket by Lishchuk got Valencia within 18-12 after 10 minutes.
Savanovic provided a highlight with a turnaround jumper in the low post that Spanoulis erased with a backdoor layup, as the Reds had improved their offense with Theo Papaloukas off the bench. Nando De Colo sank a floater that Papaloukas matched with his trademark driving layup in transition. Javtokas stepped up with another jump hook, but once again Papaloukas found Nesterovic for a wide-open jumper, good for a 24-18 score. Javtokas kept pacing Valencia with a power basket, but Nesterovic nailed another shot from the same spot and fed Jamon Gordon for a layup that made it 28-20. Nesterovic scored again and a three-pointer by Teodosic broke the game open after a 9-0 run. Claver tried to change things with a left-handed jump hook, but Gordon bettered it with a bomb from downtown. Savanovic buried a baseline jumper and Bourousis beat the buzzer with a put-back basket for a 38-24 Olympiacos lead at halftime.
Lishchuk tried to ignite the guests' comeback with free throws immediately after the break and Claver added a layup-plus-foul to bring Valencia back to life at 38-30. Olympiacos called timeout but a put-back layup by Lishchuk got the guests even closer. Bourousis scored in the paint and soon added free throws to restore a double-digit Olympiacos lead, 42-32. Spanoulis took over with a coast-to-coast layup, as Valencia kept missing open shots. Bourousis stayed on fire with more foul shots and a six-meter jumper by Nielsen made Valencia call timeout at 48-32, after a 10-0 run. Javtokas scored in the low post and added a jump hook to give Valencia some hope at 48-36. Nesterovic stepped up with an easy basket and Teodosic bettered De Colo's free throws with a triple. Omar Cook scored in penetration, but Nesterovic split free throws and added a reverse layup for a 57-40 Olympiacos lead. A jumper by Cook fixed the score at 57-42 after 30 minutes.
Javtokas scored down low early in the fourth quarter, as Olympiacos tried to open the floor with Panos Vasilopoulos at power forward. De Colo soon added a three-pointer to bring the guests within 57-47. Papaloukas scored again in penetration and Nesterovic added a layup-plus-foul that sealed the outcome, 62-47, with over seven minutes left. Both teams fought for points differential, a critical issue in the outcome of any Top 16 group. Nesterovic stayed unstoppable with back-to-back layups while an easy basket by Papaloukas caused coach Svetislav Pesic to call timeout at 65-49. Savanovic stepped up with consecutive baskets and a free throw by Lishchuk kept Valencia within 65-54. Nesterovic shined with a tip-in and Spanoulis added a fast break layup for a 68-54 score. Lishchuk kept trying, but everything was said and done already. Olympiacos won the battle, but both teams will meet in Valencia in two weeks' time in a very different basketball atmosphere.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011