Olympiacos withstands Shved blitz to down Khimki
Olympiacos Piraeus started life under new head coach David Blatt with a commanding 66-87 road victory over Khimki Moscow Region despite 34 points from Alexey Shved, including 8 three-pointers. The outcome never looked in doubt after Olympiacos recovered from a slow start to move clear in the second quarter, and a dominant finale saw the Reds claim a huge margin of success. Zach LeDay led the scoring for the visiting team on his debut, netting 14 points. Another newcomer, Sasha Vezenkov, added 13 points, while Janis Strelnieks and Georgios Printezis both scored 11. Nikola Milutinov had 9 points and 9 rebounds, and Vassilis Spanoulis combined 8 points and 7 assists. Other than Shved, Anthony Gill was Khimki’s only scorer in double figures, with 13 points.
Khimki made a fast start behind Gill, who scored his team’s first 7 points on a 12-0 run to establish a big early lead. But Olympiacos fought back with a 0-11 run of their own and the remainder of the opening quarter was closely contested as Shved came to the fore, reaching 10 points before the end of the first. But Olympiacos scored the first 9 points of the second quarter, including consecutive baskets from Vezenkov, to take command. And another flurry at the end of the quarter, capped by a wild buzzer-beating triple from Spanoulis, made it 34-44 at the interval. A three-pointer from Nigel Williams-Goss soon made it a 15-point game, and after Khimki tried to fight back a three-point play from Janis Timma finished the third with Olympiacos still in charge. A long range strike and a driving lay-up from Vezenkov maintained momentum for the visitors, and a deep three from Strelnieks effectively killed the game at 56-73 with less than eight minutes remaining. Although Shved moved past the 30-point mark with his seventh and eighth three-pointers, Kostas Papanikolaou answered in kind and Olympiacos cruised to victory the rest of the way.
There was an emotional moment immediately before the game, when late Khimki player Tyler Honeycutt was remembered with an impeccably observed minute’s silence. Honeycutt made 75 EuroLeague appearances for Khimki and Anadolu Efes Istanbul and tragically died in his native United States in July.
Shved ties personal best
Alexey Shved’s eight three-pointers was the joint highest of his career, and also the joint fifth highest this century. His total of 16 attempts from long-range was also the fifth highest in the competition since 2000, one behind his personal high of 17 set against Unicaja Malaga last season.
David Blatt was the highest profile new arrival at Olympiacos this summer, but a batch of new players also joined the coach and they made an instant impact on Friday: Zach LeDay and Sasha Vezenkov led the scoring, Nigel Williams-Goss combined 8 points with 5 assists, and Janis Timma also scored 8.
Spanoulis’s game-changing triple
The key moment of the game came with a few seconds remaining in the first half, when Khimki trailed by seven and had possession, hoping to make it a four or five point game at the break. But Olympiacos held firm, the ball came to Vassilis Spanoulis and he beat the buzzer – and Khimki’s resistance – with a sublime trademark triple.
Olympiacos will look to make it two wins out of two with a tough road trip to Baskonia on Wednesday, while Khimki hopes to gain its first win on the same night at Fenerbahce.