Can Monaco turn the tables against Olympiacos?

The most spectacular European interclub competition, the Euroleague is coming to an end and Zalgirio Arena will be the host of this year’s Final 4. Olympiacos Piraeus and AS Monaco will open the ball on May 19 in the first semifinal of this edition.

Olympiacos defeated Fenerbahce 3-2 in their five-game series and arrived here with the idea of improving their performance from last year when they lost in the semifinals against Efes. The Greeks dominated the regular season thanks in particular to Sasha Vezenkov, the Alphonso Ford EuroLeague Top Scorer Trophy this season. With huge numbers 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds makes a lethal couple with another experienced player, Kostas Sloukas who has 11.2 ppg, 5.6 assists. The two are also the players who destroyed Fenerbahce’s hopes for a Final 4. After being named coach of the year, Georgios Bartzokas also wants the 2nd Euroleague, the first won also with Olympiakos in 2013.

The French have been the surprise of the Euroleague in the last 2 years, after winning the Eurocup in 2021, they managed to reach the playoffs in the first season of the Euroleague, where they lost against Olympiakos in a decisive match in Greece. This year they were even better and managed to secure a decisive match at home in the playoffs if necessary. And they really needed this match with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the 5th match played at Salle Gaston Medicin was won 97-85, James-Loyd finishing with 21 points each. Mike James was named 2022-23 All-EuroLeague Second Team with 16.2 points, 4.6 assists, he will be helped by Loyd (12.5 points) and Ekobo (12.5 points, 3.5 assists).

Although they lost both games this season against Monaco, Olympiakos dominates in several categories: points (83.1-82.9), assists (20.9-15.5), steals (7.5-7.3), blocks (2.2-2.1), two-point % (60.1-54.3), three-point % (37.1-30.9) and free-throw % (77.1-75.5); the French are better at rebounds (34.1-33.6).

Monaco has already surpassed last year’s performance by reaching the Final 4, although it seems that Monaco has the key to success with Olympiakos, I think that Bartzokas has learned his lesson and experience superior at this level in front of Sasa Obradovic can be decisive. Especially since he has at his disposal such a lethal weapon as Sasha Vezenkov, a player who is already in Sacramento’s sights for a future season in the NBA.

Valentin Petruta

Photo: EuroLeague