Anadolu Efes crushed by Olympiacos despite promising start

Anadolu Efes crushed by Olympiacos despite promising start

Anadolu Efes crushed by Olympiacos despite promising start

Olympiacos' Josh Powel of U.S. (L) stops Anadolu Efes' Dusko Savanovic of Serbia during their Euroleague playoff game 5 basketball match at the Peace and Friendship indoor stadium in the port of Piraeus, April 26. AP photo

Anadolu Efes were unable to maintain a 15-point lead built up in the first half, handing the last Final Four spot on a silver platter to defending champion Olympiacos in the fifth Euroleague playoff game April 26.

With the 82-72 victory in Piraeus, well-assisted by their roaring supporters, the Greeks join Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow in the Final Four, which will take place in London from May 10 to May 12.

The Istanbul side, who had brought the series to 2-2 in the last two games in Istanbul and thus forced the decider in Greece, seemed to be carrying the momentum after making an impressive first half. Efes players put themselves in front using Semih Erden's power and took a slim lead in the end of the first quarter 21-23. They then totally dominated the beginning of the second quarter, with an unanswered 13 point run that put that put them 21-36 up. But Olympiacos came back with the help of star Kostas Papanikolau and reduced the score before the break to 33-41.

Vassili Spanoulis then stepped up for the Greeks in the second half, with Olympiacos quickly reducing the gap and only needing five minutes to equalize the score 49-49. Still, Efes Anadolu resisted and Kerem Gönlüm's free throws put the Blues ahead 55-54 at the end of the third quarter.

Olympiacos then pushed ahead in the final quarter, opening the gap to 61-55. Efes continued to resist with another run and retook the lead 66-67. However, the hosts' comeback was eventually completed with contributions from Pero Antic and Giorgios Printezis to win a hard-fought but clear 82-72 victory.

Georgios Printezis led Olympiacos with 15 points. Jamon Lucas scored 14 points and 5 assists, Dusko Savanovic added 12 points, and Jordan Farmar 11 for the defeated Efes.