In the round 12 of Euroleague, we have the first big Greek derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. As we know, Olympiacos was relegated to the second Greek division and now only Euroleague can present this European basketball big match. Both teams are in good form and the win is the only outcome in both sides’ minds.
Panathinaikos bring back legendary coach Rick Pitino and since then they managed to win every game. In the last Euroleague round, they smashed Baskonia by 32 points, 100-68. That was a perfect match for them, winning in every aspect of the game, especially because Coach Pitino gives minutes on court to 12 players, which helped his second unit players to gain more confidence in their abilities. In the last game played in Greece against Kolossos, they managed to get another huge win, 103-69. Again there were 12 players used in this game, which allowed their main players to have some rest in order to be ready for this big clash. Coach Pitino is very happy with this team and seems like he knows how to help, use and train them. Everybody seems more motivated now, they play like a team and the bench players contribute more in the games. The main contributors in the game against Kolossos were: Tyrese Rice (17 points and 5 rebounds), Jimmer Fredette (15 points and 4 assists) and Ioannis Papapetrou (13 points).
Olympiacos are in a good run right now, with 2 good wins against ALBA Berlin and Armani Milano. In the game against Milano, only the first quarter was a problem for Oly. After that quarter they took the lead and in the final they won by 21 points, 91-70. Inside the arc they scored 63% of their shots, while in the rebounds battle they had 14 more than their opponents. Kostas Papanikolaou was the main scorer with 17 points and 4 rebounds, while Vassilis Spanoulis with 14 points, 5 assists and Nikola Milutinov with 13 points and 11 rebounds where the others top performers. This game against Panathinaikos comes in a good period for them, because they have good morale after that big win against Milano. Those games against Panathinaikos in Euroleague are the most important for them, so I expect a huge fighting spirit for Oly, to get a win in OAKA and make their fans happy.
As a prediction, Panathinaikos will win this game, because they have the better roster and if we look at the way it plays under Pitino nowadays, I can’t imagine how Spanoulis and co. can stop PAO. They have a small chance to make a surprise here because the basketball game is very unpredictable, but that chance is way too small to even hope of a win.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc