Other than in the playoffs, it is unusual to see two EuroLeague teams face each other in the competition twice in five days, but due to a Round 10 showdown being postponed, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and Olympiacos Piraeus did exactly that. ASVEL defeated Olympiacos 63-69 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Friday behind 19 points from Guerschon Yabusele. And the teams faced each other in the Astroballe on Tuesday.
It was one of the most physical and intense games so far this season and had everything a EuroLeague fan is used to enjoying in high-caliber games… and then some more: spectacular plays, superstars stepping up at the right time, drama and two teams leaving it all on the floor. When the dust settled, Olympiacos had registered a 93-101 win, its seventh road victory of the season.
"It was a very tough, very difficult game. We are feeling exhausted, even the coaches," Olympiacos head coach Georgios Bartzokas said after the game. Indeed, his team made a spectacular effort to win the game, rallying from a 6-point deficit to get back in the game, forcing overtime with a clutch three-point shot by star guard Kostas Sloukas, and staying focused in overtime to cruise to an important win.
Olympiacos had 9 blocks in this game, led by a career-high 3 by Sasha Vezenkov. Octavius Ellis and Georgios Printezis each had 2 and Hassan Martin and Livio Jean-Charles each had one. It matched the Reds' club record - Olympiacos previously had 9 blocks in a 57-62 road win against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on November 7, 2014. It is also the highest mark by any team in the 2020-21 EuroLeague. Olympiacos only had 1 block against ASVEL on Friday.
There were more differences in Tuesday's game at the Astroballe. Sloukas came off a subpar performance with just 2 points in almost 20 minutes. He took only two shots and didn't go to the foul line in that game. On Tuesday, Sloukas was his usual self and made the difference with the three-pointer that sent it to overtime, before scoring 6 more points in the extra period. He finished the game with 23 points on 4-of-8 two-point shooting, 2-of-2 on three-pointers and 9-of-9 on free throws plus 6 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 27.
"I think, all game, we showed character. We lost a little bit the rhythm of the game in the third quarter with some silly turnovers, but the important thing is that we showed the heart of Olympiacos, came back and took this game," Sloukas said after the game. "I was really upset and disappointed. We had to answer against this team, that is a good team and prepared the game really well."
Martin, who missed Friday's game, was rock-solid as usual, scoring 15 points on 7-of-10 two-point shooting with 6 rebounds off the bench. Shaquielle McKissic finished the game with a career-high 23 points, 11 of them in the final 13 minutes of the game.
"We usually focus on team basketball but when the team needs me to do other things, I like to do that as well. It was super important that we came out here and got this win. It is always tough to play back-to-back games, but we almost let this one slip. I think I owe Kostas Sloukas some dinner or something!" McKissic joked after the game.
Coach Bartzokas praised ASVEL in the press conference and highlighted the importance of each game from now on. "This is, right now, a turning point for all the teams," Bartzokas said. "I consider that every game counts as double. Every game is a final and there are a lot of good, strong teams in the EuroLeague, and nothing is easy."