As regular season preview writer Akilas is not available these days because of business issues, we asked David Hein to give us his opinion about Olympiacos’ chances during the Final Four in Berlin. Read on for the interesting piece that David prepared for you.
Olympiacos failed to reach the Euroleague Final Four the last three seasons, losing each time in the quarterfinal playoffs. Well, the club said “enough is enough” and went out to get veterans with a proven track record of winning.
The resultant moves for Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic, Yotam Halperin and Josh Childress have paid off, bringing the Reds back to the Final Four for the first time since 1999.
Papaloukas, Vujcic and Halperin all bring the experience of winning two Euroleague titles while Papaloukas has six straight Final Four showings and Vujcic and Halperin have each played in four Final Fours. Josh Childress, of course, has been battle-tested by four years in the NBA. With that quartet and plenty more talent, head coach Panagiotis Giannakis’ team is loaded and has a great chance of grabbing its first crown since 1997.
But the Olympiacos will have to knock off fierce Greek rivals Panathinaikos in the semifinals. The teams split their two domestic league games during the season with the Greens winning at home in November, 86-69. Halperin hit for 20 points, and Childress was the only other player in double figures with 11. But Giannakis’ defense could not stop the Reds’ ball movement. The Reds came back in early March for a 77-75 home victory against Panathinaikos with Ioannis Bourousis leading four players in double figures with 18 points.
So what will happen on May 1? Well, Giannakis has two injury concerns heading to Berlin. Forward Panagiotis Vasilopoulos has been dealing with a back injury and missed the Reds’ last four games. And tough defending guard Michalis Pelekanos is out with a leg injury. Both players are listed as doubtful and that will no doubt be a loss, especially in Giannakis’ ability to reach deep into his rotation against the equally deep Panathinaikos. In addition, center Sofoklis Schortsanitis played just two minutes in Olympiacos’ second domestic league playoff game since his month-long suspension for disciplinary reasons.
That means that Giannakis’ main men must get the job done. Papaloukas will have to find a way to solve the defensive web of Dimitris Diamantidis. The Reds, especially Halperin and Lynn Greer, also desperately need to shoot well from long range. And a fascinating battle will be Vujcic and Bourousis against the Greens’ duo of Nikola Pekovic and Mike Batiste. The old adage is “Goes defense wins championships,” and Childress has been defensive stopper this season for Giannakis and could play a huge impact on Friday. Also don’t forget 22-year-old Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic, who is a winner.
One thing is certain: This semifinal showdown between the rival Reds and Greens promises to be an extremely entertaining battle.
written by David Hein