Credit:

Olympiacos Piraeus crushed another opponent at home to reach the 11th win in the EuroLeague season and cemented their place in the top four.

Player of the Game
Tyler  Dorsey
EFF
20
Tyler Dorsey
Points 19
Accuracy 5-9
Rebounds 3
Assists 2

The Reds' 35-point win over LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (89-54) is the 5th largest in their EuroLeague history. In front of 6,500 fans, the hosts proved unhospitable once again. When ASVEL cut down the deficit to six (20-14) in the second quarter, the Greek side responded with a partial score of 19-7 to close the first half at +18 (39-21).

In contrast to Bayern Munich, who managed to contain the margin from 34 to 17 points, the French champs could not react in any way during the game.

"Obviously, we are happy with the team's performance. We were very serious for 40 minutes," Giorgos Bartzokas commented post-game.

"If we say that the goal was to stop Chris Jones and Elie Okobo, then we achieved it. We stopped their creativity and the players who help ASVEL to find the baskets on offense," the Greek coach continued.

Elie Okobo finished with only 8 points on 3/9 from the field and scored his first basket halfway through the third quarter when the score was 52-27. It was a jump-shot made almost impossible by Moustapha Fall's imposing stature blocking the French guard's vision. 

However, Okobo's poor performance in Piraeus was not the exception but the rule in what has turned out as a hard period for the 24-year-old EuroLeague rookie. Over the last three contests, the former NBA player has amassed 24 points on 8/26 field goals and an accumulated PIR of 26. 

A startling fall from grace for a player who delivered MVP-caliber shows in ASVEL's first ten games. By Round 10, Okobo averaged 19.9 points on 60% on two-pointers and 48.9% on three-pointers. His decline has affected the ensemble. 

Free throws this season

75%
10,3
Points made: 10,3
Accuracy: 74,9%
Place in standings: 16
Record max: 16
Record min: 4
Most made FTs: Elie Okobo

"I'm not worried about one player, I'm worried about the team," ASVEL coach T.J. Parker commented in the press conference. "Team always comes first. Elie is part of a team. Of course, he's struggling," the French tactician conceded.

"In the beginning, teams didn't really know Elie Okobo. Now everybody has scouted us, and they know who he is, so it's much more difficult. They put the best defender on him every night. It's not easy," Parker continued.

Credit PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP - Scanpix

ASVEL's coach is optimistic that his player will come around, provided that the team gets better.

"Team is No.1 for us to get some wins. After that, he'll come back. His offense will come back. He's a great offensive player. But first, we have to get better as a team.

I'm not worried about him. He's a great kid; he listens, he practices, watches the video, gets feedback," Parker added.

On the other hand, Chris Jones recorded his season-low, going scoreless, failing to knock down his four attempts from the field and a couple of free throws, despite staying on the court for 15 minutes. 

Overall, ASVEL have been suffering greatly over the last six weeks. For a team that started the season at 6-2, including victories over reigning champions Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow, collecting only one win in the next eight games -largely thanks to a miraculous William Howard three-pointer at the buzzer against Monaco- has resulted in them being left far behind in the playoff race. 

What's more, the team lost two-way guard-forward David Lighty four games into the regular season. Captain Charles Kahudi is also out, while big man Raymar Morgan has yet to debut and is expected back in a few weeks.

"It's not easy for us. It started when we lost one of our best players, David Lighty," Parker said.

"Raymar Morgan, who is our interior presence, hasn't played a game yet. And we had injuries all season, we don't have Charles Kahudi. It's been really hard. We have been hit by COVID-19 also."

Parker also mentioned that travels had hit ASVEL, soaking up a lot of energy.

"We've never had time to practice, and we don't travel like any team in EuroLeague," he added. "We have tough travels. And sometimes that takes some energy out."

Bartzokas was happy that his team came back to home territory on the other end of the spectrum.

"We didn't have a trip this double week," he said. "It's a win we really wanted, and we appreciate it. We think we can claim wins everywhere. The fact that the fans have returned helps us," he further stressed.

"Getting so many home wins can't be a matter of chance, we are showing that we have potential as a team."

Next up for Olympiacos is Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, the only team that has gotten away from Piraeus with a win this season. The upcoming game will take place at OAKA, where -despite the Greens' poor (4-12) record- the atmosphere is expected to be heated, as usual.

"We've got 11 wins in the first round so far, and we'll be chasing our 12th as well," Bartzokas continued. "It will not be easy. OAKA is a difficult court to play at. We need to improve, but we definitely have a good foundation as a team to go far."

Despite the Reds' impressive EuroLeague run, prevailing over Panathinaikos has proven to be a hard task, no matter how big the distance between the two teams looks on paper.

"The first round in the EuroLeague comes to an end and we have played two-thirds of it at home, we will have a difficult second round. We're happy with the basketball we're playing and the position we're in," forward Kostas Papanikolaou told sport24.gr

"Even if we win at OAKA, it will be important, but it's still December. One win in December doesn't give you a title, nor does it make your season successful," he stressed.

"We have to stop creating unnecessary tension before those games. They should be all about having fun and the best team to win. That's how we must perceive them."

Players' mentality has nothing to do with how many die-hard fans think and react. After the game, around 50 Olympiacos fans waited for players to come out of the locker room to sing chants and encourage them to get the win against their rivals.

That defeat a month ago remains a thorn in their side. James Gist, who served Panathinaikos for six and a half years (2012-2019), was booed at teams' presentation prior to tip-off and also when ASVEL players headed to the bus on their way out. 

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2022-01-10
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Pirėjo Olympiakos
Vilerbano ASVEL
55%
33/60
Field goals
40%
23/57
41
Rebounds
24
16
Assists
14
5
Steals
6
107
Efficiency
44
40%
10/25
3-pointers
29%
4/14

Best players

Tyler  Dorsey
19 PTS
5/9 FG
6/6 FT
Dylan  Osetkowski
13 PTS
6/12 FG
0/0 FT
Kostas  Papanikolaou
6 REB
5 DREB
1 OREB
Youssoupha  Fall
6 REB
4 DREB
2 OREB
Konstantinos  Sloukas
5 As
1 TO
23 MIN
Matthew  Strazel
4 As
2 TO
25 MIN
Tyler  Dorsey
20 EFF
67% 2P%
50% 3P%
Youssoupha  Fall
12 EFF
71% 2P%
- 3P%