At the Audi Dome
Wed, 16/11/22, 07:48
Tough battle with Piraeus ahead
Fenerbahce, Barcelona, Milan - and now Olympiakos: Bayern Basketball's fourth guest in the still young EuroLeague season is also a title candidate, with the Greek champion already the third Final Four participant from 2022 presenting itself in Munich. Thus, the starting position as underdog for the home game against Piraeus this Thursday evening (17.11., 20:30) is clear. However, head coach Andrea Trinchieri's team already benefited from the atmosphere in the sold-out Audi Dome during the longed-for first victory over defending champion Efes Istanbul (81-78) and will certainly experience a full house again.
To what extent Olympiakos will be impressed is another matter. After all, the Greek double winners have seamlessly followed up a season in which the EuroLeague champions of 2012 and 2013 (and five-time finalists in eight years since 2010) returned to the continental top: After four years missing the playoffs, coach Georgios Bartzokas' 2022 team advanced again to the knockout round and then the finals. Currently, Olympiakos is in second place behind Fener (6-1) with five wins. Bayern recently celebrated its second win in a row with a 79-77 victory in Berlin.
Sloukas a top passer in the League
Sasha Vezenkov is at the center of the Olympiakos offense. The Bulgarian, who was selected to the All-EuroLeague First Team last season, is again moving to the next level: With 20 points per game, the left-hander currently leads all scorers in the top division, and his PIR value of 26.1 on average is also top value. In addition, he has 8.3 rebounds - second place - and a strong field goal percentage of almost 67 percent (three-pointers: 50 percent).
In short, the 27-year-old forward is playing the best basketball of his career, which once began in the youth program of Nicosia, his birthplace in Cyprus, before he moved to Aris Thessaloniki and FC Barcelona (2015 - 2018) and then to the leading Greek team of recent years. In 2015, he was crowned MVP of the Greek league, at just 20 years old. Aleksandar "Sasha" Vezenkov, who also has a Greek passport, played again for Bulgaria, his family's home country, at EuroBasket 2022. He was the third-best scorer in the European Championship tournament, averaging 26.8 points.
In addition to Vezenkov, Piraeus has retained the rest of the core of the successful 2021/2022 team. This includes the strong guard lineup with Greek international and director Kostas Sloukas - currently the best passer in the EuroLeague averaging 7.1 assists - with the best ball thief in the competition, Thomas Walkup (1.9 Stpg, 7.7 ppg, 5 apg). Shaquielle McKissic, homegrown internationals Kostas Papanikolaou and Giannoulis Larentzakis (9.4 ppg, 50% threes), and center Moustapha Fall - who currently boasts the best ever two-point percentage in the EuroLeague at 70.3 percent - round up a great squad.