|07 October 2013|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Once more the cornerstone of Olympiacos' success: Vassilis Spanoulis|
Greek club Olympiacos Piraeus defeated the Brazilians of Pinheiros Sky over two legs during the weekend to conquer the first edition of the Intercontinental Cup in the 21st century.
Both legs of the final of the recently relaunched competition took place in Sao Paulo, but that did not prevent the Turkish Airlines Euroleague champions from clinching comfortable victories and becoming the first club in 17 years to take home the trophy.
On Friday night, Olympiacos prevailed 81-70 over the FIBA Americas League champions on the back of a strong showing in the second half.
Giorgos Printezis bought the Greeks ahead 32-30 at the half-time buzzer with a trade-mark floating lay-up and Vassilis Spanoulis sprung into action in the third to enable the European side to pull ahead.
The star guard scored all of his 18 team-high points after the break and also dished out nine assists, as Olympiacos took their first double-digit lead early in the fourth and never allowed the hosts to mount a comeback.
Another Greek international, small forward Stratos Perperoglou, chipped in with 15 points and Bryant Dunston collected a double-double of 11 points and 12 boards for the winners.
Olympiacos did not rely on their first leg advantage and established their dominance almost from tip-off when the two teams met again on Sunday.
The Greeks led from start to finish, barring a brief stretch in the second quarter, with the gap extending to as many as 23 points late in the fourth.
Olympaicos clinched an 86-69 win to celebrate the historical success in style, as Printezis paved the way with 16 points, point guard Vangelis Mantzaris had 10 points and Slovenian international Mirza Begic added nine points.
"This was an unforgettable experience for us because we came in touch with the culture of a people who loves sport, and we saw how basketball is played in Latin America," Olympiacos head coach Giorgios Bartzokas said.
"We are really happy and honuored by the Greek fans who supported us here (in Brazil), they helped us enormously.
"I wouldn't say that the difference between South American basketball and European basketball is that big.
"Pinheiros have a very organized and serious team. The biggest difference has to do with the players coming from the bench, as Pinheiros almost played with seven players."
Interestingly, the club that had conquered the last Intercontinental Cup before its re-launch this year, was fellow Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, in 1996, after defeating Argentinian side Olimpia Venado Tuerto.
Real Madrid have won the competition on four occasions while Pallacanestro Varese have three titles.