The Reds are hot favourites with good reason but Emmet Ryan senses the makings of a classic in Piraeus on Tuesday night. For Anadolu Efes and Olympiacos, tonight is what it means to be young
Game 4 looked like the end. Olympiacos weathered a spirited start from Anadolu Efes but, in the end, it was just another pressure situation for Vassilis Spanoulis and company. The Istanbul club left its best chance at home, I get that, but that only means this series isn’t over. For 40 minutes on Tuesday night, in a Game 5 situation, anything is possible.
I’ve got a dream when the darkness is over
We’ll be lying in the rays of the sun
There’s no dancing around this. Commercially, for this site, an Oly win is the only result that makes sense. BiE however operates without bias towards a team and only towards an outcome. The only outcome this house wants is an absolute belter in the SEF and there’s real reason to expect one tonight. We know the history. No road team has ever won a Game 5 in the playoff era. Well, these have been the playoffs where convention has gone out the window. Obradovic won with Fener in the Oaka, twice. Efes finally won a road game in the post-season. Rip up the record book. Nothing is won until the final horn sounds.
Let the rebels begin
Let the fire be started
We’re dancing for the restless and the broken-hearted
Look at what Efes bring to the table. The physical power of Bryant Dunston. The vigour of Jayson Granger, the explosive potential of Cedi Osman, and the moments when Brandon Paul and Derrick Brown decide they own the joint. What they don’t have, or haven’t had up to now in this series, is a change of plan. When option A, running Oly into the ground, runs out of steam they are left wanting. Can Alex Kirk bring another element to the offence? For that matter, can the bench as a whole be relied on to step up when absolutely everything is on the line.
But it’s only a dream and tonight is for real
You’ll never know what it means
But you’ll know how it feels
Then, oh then, on the other side is that blend of brilliance for the home side. With a wild SEF at their backs there is the canny wisdom and magic from Spanoulis and Giorgios Printezis. The ugly but smart game of Nikola Militunov, the switch-up tandem of Patric Young and Khem Birch, and the tendency of Vangelis Mantzaris to kill you when you least expect it. Running at the pace Efes set isn’t Oly’s game but once that comes down even a touch, it’s like a game built for the Reds. This is a side that has learnt from a poor campaign a year ago and not just got more athletic in key departments, it’s veterans have adapted to bend a game to their will.
The things they say
And then the things they do
Nothin’s gonna stop us if our dream is true
There’s so much potential here even though everything within us watching expects a clear and decisive victory for the hosts. Irrespective of the victor, a Game 5 offers the greatest kind of drama outside of the Final Four. It’s real elimination basketball and it’s healthy to dream of it being all it can be.
For the lyrical references, watch this with the sound blaring. Enjoy the game.