Credit: Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Olympiacos Piraeus are off to a very promising season start in the EuroLeague. Apart from boasting a 5-2 record, this Wednesday, the Reds welcomed the latest addition to their roster, Quincy Acy.

Player of the Game
Moustapha  Fall
Moustapha Fall
Points 10
Accuracy 5-6
Rebounds 9
Assists 1

In its last contest to date, the Greek team gave a hard-fought battle against Fenerbahce Istanbul (67-65) at the Peace and Friendship Stadium. The game went down to the wire and was decided by a Kostas Sloukas jump-shot in front of his former teammate Jan Vesely.

Although the 31-year-old guard was the undisputed man of the match, Shaquielle McKissic made two free throws when his team was down 58-55 and - most importantly - was fighting through an almost seven-minute-long scoring draught.

Of course, the guard/forward from Seattle is capable of much more than what he has shown this year. His numbers have dropped significantly compared to his first two seasons (2019-21) in Piraeus, but - as he admits to BasketNews - being a "glue guy" is a role that he's ready to embrace.

"Basketball is a game of runs. Sometimes, you blow teams out, but sometimes you lose close games. We were fortunate enough to win this one," Shaq McKissic commented on Olympiacos's fifth EuroLeague win of the season just half an hour after it had been accomplished.

The hosts didn't score a single basket for more than six minutes, allowing Fenerbahce to go on an impressive 0-16 run and take the reins of the game.

"I'm pretty sure they had six minutes where they couldn't score as well. Fenerbahce is a good team, so you got to tip your hat to them. I'm sure they will finish in a pretty good position in the standings. That's why we're happy that we got this win over them at home," the American forward went on to say.

Credit Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

In the fourth quarter, Kostas Sloukas scored all of Olympiacos' field goals and eight of his team's twelve points.

Shaquielle McKissic

Shaquielle  McKissic
Team: Olympiakos Piraeus
Position: SG
Age: 31
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 96 kg
Birth place: Seattle, United States of America

"A big nod to him. I'm sure that shot will give him and the team a lot of confidence for the rest of the season," McKissic noted.

Last year, Olympiacos came close to approaching a playoff spot, but some really important games slipped off their hands. So far, an overtime away loss to league leaders FC Barcelona has been the only mishap for the squad coached by Giorgos Bartzokas.

In this vein, the 31-year-old athlete seemed to be perfectly aware of what the win against the Turkish team meant for his team.

"Last year, we lost a lot of this type of games. So, this was really important for our confidence. If we had lost that game, it would have been a huge blow, especially coming off of that CSKA game. It was good to know that we can win close ones," McKissic noted.

McKissic thinks that the difference between the previous versions of Olympiacos and the current one lies in their big and good roster.

"We're good at every single position, in my opinion. If one player is not playing well, another one will step up. I think that's the biggest thing for us," he said.

Having the fans back in the stands is also a huge bonus. Almost 9,500 fans got to watch Olympiacos beat Fener, pushing the three-time EuroLeague champs to victory.

"We always feel comfortable at home games," McKissic admitted. "We know that we're going to get that extra boost from the fans. It's an amazing feeling."

The Arizona State graduate believes that this season's EuroLeague is going to be hard, and there's a lot of good and middle-of-the-pack teams.

"The playoffs may be decided by one game or one possession. So, we'll have to wait and see how things will pan out. Hopefully, we're towards the top," he notes.

Another important difference compared to last year is Olympiacos being able to defend their home court, where they have racked up five wins in as many EuroLeague games.

"I think COVID messed a lot of people up, psychologically. So, home games felt like away games and vice versa," McKissic recalled.

"We've had some really tough away games so far. Hopefully, we'll play a team that we should beat away. That will be the first real test of what type of team we are."

Handling COVID this season has been far easier compared to last season.

"No more COVID tests... Just a few here and there, but I'm happy that we have the vaccination, and we can get back to normal a little bit.

Also, you don't have to walk around worrying about contracting COVID so easily. At the same time, it's good to be free, a little bit," McKissic said.

Right now, and with another home game against AS Monaco on the horizon, Olympiacos are in a good spot. Only FC Barcelona and AX Armani Exchange Milan are above the Greek powerhouse in the standings. However, McKissic prefers to keep it low-key.

"We just take one game at a time. I think that everyone in our locker room believes that we can go really far. Hopefully, we can do some damage."

How far? "If you ask me, I would say playoffs. But I for sure think Final Four. That's just my opinion, though. Why not?"

Last year, the American forward averaged 10,7 points in 23 minutes over 33 EuroLeague contests. This year is a tad different since Olympiacos are back to the Greek League as well, which means that players' minutes can be allocated more evenly by Bartzokas.

"I feel good like I'm getting my legs and my confidence back. Now, I'm experiencing the Greek League and the EuroLeague. I'm also playing with a ton of good players. If somebody is playing really good in front of me, it's just one of those nights," McKissic maintains.

Credit imago images/ANE Edition-Scanpix

Except for the game at Barcelona, his playing time has never exceeded the 20-minute limit, nor has he ever scored in double-digits. Would it be fair to assume that his role has changed?

"Oh, for sure. It's like: "Would you rather be the man on the losing team or be an important piece on a winning team?". I can sleep better at night when we've got the win."

Does this change also have to do with playing time? McKissic issued an immediate response to avoid any misconceptions.

"No, I like my playing time," he promptly replied.

"I mean, I don't have to go out there and, for 28 minutes, try to just score, score, score, or go at defenses when they are waiting for me," he further emphasized.

"We've got such good players that I get to come in, pick my moments, try to get rebounds, draw fouls and free throws, make threes... I like it. A glue guy."

Now that Acy has been added to the roster, all that Giorgos Bartzokas can hope for is to make all the glue guys gel together.

We want to hear from you. Be the first to comment!
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website
Olympiacos Piraeus
Fenerbahce Istanbul
Field goals

Best players

Konstantinos  Sloukas
14 PTS
5/12 FG
1/1 FT
Jan  Vesely
14 PTS
5/14 FG
4/4 FT
Moustapha  Fall
Jan  Vesely
Konstantinos  Sloukas
5 As
2 TO
24 MIN
Marko  Guduric
4 As
1 TO
22 MIN
Moustapha  Fall
21 EFF
83% 2P%
- 3P%
Jan  Vesely
16 EFF
42% 2P%
0% 3P%