On this day eight years ago, Peace and Friendship Stadium was rocking as Olympiacos Piraeus completed a playoff series victory over Montepaschi Siena to secure a spot at the 2012 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Istanbul. Olympiacos bested Siena 76-69 in Game 4 of their best-of-five series. After barely squeezing through the Top 16, the young Olympiacos squad guided by legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic completed a playoff upset to win the series 3-1 and book a ticket to Istanbul, where the underdog Reds would go on to make history and in the most dramatic of fashions win the first of two consecutive titles.
What it meant
In retrospect, the Game 4 win turned into more than just a series-clincher for Olympiacos. It secured the team’s third trip to the Final Four in four years, but this one came without the homecourt playoff advantage. It also came with a younger, revamped roster. The previous summer, Olympiacos lost Milos Teodosic, Ioannis Bourousis, Rasho Nesterovic, Yotam Halperin and Theo Papaloukas. But Dusan Ivkovic meshed three of the players who remained – Vassilis Spanoulis, Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Keselj – with frontcourt warriors Georgios Printezis, Kyle Hines and Pero Antic and put his trust in young playmakers Kostas Sloukas and Vangelis Mantzaris. The new-look Reds played hard and got results in becoming a dynasty that would win two titles and play in an additional two championship games.
This win meant a bit extra just because it came against an opponent that shocked Piraeus a year earlier. In 2011, when the two teams met in the playoffs for the first time, heavily favored Olympiacos, the EuroLeague runner-up in 2010, won Game 1 by a record margin of 48 points only for Montepaschi to win the next three games and take the series. This time, the Reds returned the favor. Olympiacos took the series opener in Siena, and after Montepaschi tied the series in a dramatic Game 2, Olympiacos protected its home floor with a dominant 20-point win to take a 2-1 lead and then finished off the job with a 76-69 victory in Game 4.
Montepaschi spent the majority of the first three quarters with a lead that was as big as 42-48 midway through the third quarter, but Olympiacos bridged the third and fourth quarters with an 11-0 run to go in front and then an 8-0 run to open a 69-61 lead it never relinquished for a big celebration in Piraeus. But that was just the start of historic things to come.
Hines and Spanoulis led the way
Kyle Hines collected 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks for Olympiacos, and Vassilis Spanoulis also scored 19 – going a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. They were the only two double-digit scorers, with Georgios Printezis and Acie Law adding 8 points apiece. David Andersen and Nikos Zisis each scored 15 points for Siena and Andersen also grabbed 11 rebounds. The Reds shot just 4 for 22 from long range, but had 17 offensive rebounds, which were tied for fourth-most at the time.
What happened next
Team captain Georgios Printezis had 8 points and 9 rebounds in this game, shooting 0-for-6 from three-point range. It was a solid effort, but far from a memorable night for Printezis who turned into a forever-hero for Olympiacos fans and an instant basketball legend a little more than a month later when he scored the game-winning baseline floater in the final seconds of the championship game to complete Olympiacos’s rally from 19 points down against CSKA Moscow and lift the Reds to their second EuroLeague title – and first in 15 years. But that’s not where this Olympiacos generation stopped as it repeated as champion in 2013 and also reached championship games in 2015 and 2017.