By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Olympiacos became the first team to beat Barcelona in Palau Blaugrana this season in EuroLeague and did so in style. The Reds scored a season-high in points against the best defense in the competition to win 96 – 88 and bounce back following a loss two straight losses.
While Hassan Martin notched game-highs 17 points/eight rebounds and Kostas Sloukas produced a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists, it was Aaron Harrison who provided the MVP-caliber defensive plays down the stretch for Olympiacos in his first game after a return a one-month absence due to injury.
After Barcelona came back from an 11-point deficit in the third period and with the score 82 – 84 for Olympiaocs, Harrison first stole the ball to win an unsportsmanlike foul that led to five straight points for the Reds with 2:19 remaining. He then won the offensive foul by Nick Calathes and stole the ball once more as Sloukas hit what was proven to be the 3-point dagger for the 84 – 91 with 38 seconds to play.
Nikola Mirotic scored 16 points and Brandon Davies dropped 15 points for Barcelona that had fallen behind even by 15 points after an electric start by Olympiacos. Sarunas Jasikevicius’ players had to play catch-up for the remainder of the game until the tie the score 77 – 77 five minutes into the final quarter. Their opponents reacted well enough to take the lead and retain it for the rest of the game.
“A couple of times in the game we managed to come back and it seems we could do something, but our incredible mistakes and [inability] to stop them cost us the game,” Jasikevicius said. “We already know the formula. If we defend, we are very good. If we don’t defend, we are nothing special.”
Shaq McKissic contributed 16 points for Olympiacos.
Dismantling the top-ranked defense
Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas was pleased to see his guys having such an impressive offensive game vs. such tough defensive team as Barcelola.
“It’s not only the place, it’s the team also,” Bartzokas said. “We played against the best defense in the EuroLeague and we scored 96 points, so that means something. We played as a team, we shared the ball, we found the open man, we had contributions from a lot of players and that’s why we won today. It was a team effort and I would like to congratulate my players.”