Olympiacos Piraeus seemed to be in full control of the game when it enjoyed a 55-42 advantage against visiting Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul after 27 minutes. The Reds had been ahead for most of the game since the tipoff, amassing a double-digit lead right before halftime that looked big enough to claim another home win.
The man responsible for that comfortable margin had been Kostas Sloukas, who came up big in the second quarter when the visitors had tied the game at 27-27. The Greek guard hit from downtown twice, grabbed 2 rebounds, dished 2 assists, and provided 1 steal that were the foundation of a 13-0 run in less than 3 minutes that got Olympiacos in charge.
But Fenerbahce didn’t surrender. Despite trailing 55-42, a terrific 0-16 charge bridging the third and the fourth quarters brought the visitors back into the game, 55-58, entering the last stanza.
“We stopped shooting well in the second half. We created a lot of open shots, but we missed them”, regretted the Coach Georgios Bartzokas of Olympiacos.
The home team’s scoring blackout lasted for 6 minutes and seemed to have pulled out the offensive momentum from the Reds, as they were unable to score a single field goal after that. Shaquielle McKissic and Giannoulis Larentzakis were the only ones able to provide points for Olympiacos at that moment, but they were only 4 and all of them came from the free-throw line.
As such, Fenerbahce was ahead 59-62 with 5 minutes remaining and nerves started to take over for the Reds. That’s when Sloukas showed up again, becoming a savior and a hero for his team.
First, he nailed a three-pointer to make it all square, 62-62. Later, Sloukas finished a 3-minute span in which both teams were scoreless with his third triple of the night, which made it 65-22 with 1:39 to play. And finally, right after Achille Polonara’s three-point play that tied it again with 39 seconds to go, he took the responsibility on Olympiacos’s last possession.
Sloukas decided to drive against one of the best defenders in the competition, the Czech Jet Jan Vesely. Despite the size difference, Sloukas was able to create space for himself to hit a difficult game-winning jumper that brought the fans on their feet with just 2 seconds to go.
“I made a stupid foul under the basket,” Sloukas said when recalling the previous action on Polonara. He made up for that mistake in the best way possible, nailing the shot that ended up sealing the outcome.
“I always believe in my shots. Sometimes I score and sometimes I miss,” he shared right after the game.
Sloukas’s last basket was his 8th point in a row, and actually the only 8 points Olympiacos had been able to score in the last 5 minutes of the game.
“In the end, it was a great shot against our best defender. A great shot from a great offensive player,” acknowledged Fenerbahce head coach Sasa Djordjevic in the game press conference.
A winning bucket that saved the day for Olympiacos when things looked worst and that helped the Reds celebrate another home win to stay perfect so far at Peace and Friendship stadium.