Day 7, Group A: Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 13-7
The Serbs lost two of their key players in recent weeks – they already signed up for Novi Beograd for next season, so their services were no longer required. That left a mark on Radnicki’s game, though as long as the Serbs had enough fuel in the tank, they could put up a good fight – but only the first half was tight.
Radnicki took the better start, led 1-2 (despite a missed penalty at 1-1) while the Greeks were struggling in front. Then it turned out that sometimes the simplest solutions were the best ones – since no one made a move, Georgios Dervisis held the ball for a while, then sent it to the net from the perimeter. And in 52 seconds the Greeks went 3-2 up as Marton Vamos netted an extra.
Nemanja Stanojevic also buried one from Radnicki’s first possession to level the score at 3-3, then came the first lapse in the Serbs’ game – a scoreless phase of five minutes when Olympiacos’ offence also stepped up. Konstantinos Mourikis hit two in 46 seconds and two minutes – and a killed man-down – later Konstaninos Genidounias also sent the ball home from a man-up. Still, this 3-0 run wasn’t enough to break Radnicki. Soon Filip Jankovic pulled one back from a 6 on 5, then Josip Vrlic was on target from the centre, in 51 seconds the Serbs were back to 6-5 and denied the hosts in two man-downs in the remaining 1:15 minutes.
Another action goal from Nikola Lukic 68 seconds into the third put Radnicki back on equal terms at 6-6, though Ioannis Fountoulis replied also from action to retake the lead. The Serbs missed a crucial extra and within minutes they found themselves by three down once more at 9-6. Conceding three action goals in a row was a sign that Radnicki started having problems – and this time they couldn’t overcome those. Towards the end of this period, they received two more, one from a man-up, and one from a penalty and this 5-0 run by the Greeks decided the outcome, though there were eight more minutes to play.
Stefen Brankovic halted the Serbs’ scoreless run after 8:06 minutes, however, this was also their last goal with 6:46 to go, as it turned out, while the heroes of the game, the two centre-forwards of Olympiacos, Mourikis and Kolomvos added one more apiece (both finished the afternoon with three hits). It was telling, that a 6-5 first half was followed by a 7-2 rush by the Greeks who passed another important test en route to Belgrade.
How they saw it
Igor Milanovic, coach, Olympiacos
“The two centre-forwards had a great game, for sure. I’m happy with my players, they played well once again. At the beginning we were not precise in attack and in defence which also show that there is a lot of room for improvement in our game. I think we were too nervous but then my players showed once more they could play with big hearts and got one step closer to the Final Eight.”
Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki
“We have problems with our rosters, due to problems in the club, you could see we fielded four juniors for this game. Because of that, we couldn’t keep our high level for the second half. I just hope we will be better in ten days as we keep fighting for the fourth place in the group.”