The Reds from Greece came to Israel in order to participate in 2 exhibition games, and won twice: After overtime in Vujcic's farewell from Maccabi Tel Aviv, and much more easily in the house warming of Rishon's new stadium.
Photo Gallery from Vujcic's Fairwell game (Liron Moldovan)
Photo Gallery from "Beit Maccabi" house warming (Liron Moldovan)
Maccabi Tel Aviv 77 - Olympiacos 80 (OT)
More than 10,000 fans arrived to Nokia stadium on Saturday, in order to give Nikola Vujcic his well-deserved fairwell. The Croatian center, who left Maccabi after 6 years, couldn't hide his tears in an emotional ceremony, which lasted 45 minutes.
In the first half, he was still "Maccabi's best player" as he later admitted, missing all of his 5 field goal attempts, which two of them were blocked by D'or Fischer. After the break, he shook the entusiasm off and led his new team to a victory over his old club.
Carlos Arroyo had 7 points and 3 assists in Maccabi's early 16:2 run, which gave them a 21:14 lead after 10 minutes. Zoran Erceg and Sokokles Schortsanitis got the visitors back to the game by dominating the offensive glass, and tied it until intermission to 32 all.
The ill Theo Papaloukas played for the first time in the third quarter, and after Vujcic's first bucket, the Greeks took the lead, 53:50 in the end of the third period.
Three-pointers by Nikola and Yotam Halperin (who was booed by some of the fans), who scored 10 joint points in the next 5 minutes, put Olympiacos ahead by 6, but Rodney White tied the game at 68:68. Neither team managed to score in the final minute, and the game went to overtime.
Vujcic, with another hoop and a great assist to Josh Childress, opened the largest lead of the Reds, 77:70, but Arroyo, who hasn't scored since the 9th minute, doubled his points from 7 to 14 in the extra session, and got Maccabi within 1. Omri Casspi had a chance to win it, but his layup fell short, and Childress sealed the deal from the line.
Maccabi: Arroyo 14 (11 AS, 4 ST, 5-13 FG), White 12 (6 Rebs, 4 TO), Fischer 12 (9 Rebs, 4 BS), Wiiliams 11, Batista 10, Simmons, Casspi and Eliyahu 5 each, Burstein 3, Green, Hagag and Sharp didn't score.
Olympiacos: Childress 14, Schortsanitis 12 (7.5 minutes), Vujcic and Erceg (11 Rebs) 11 each, Borousis 9, Greer 8, Halperin 6, Teodosic 5, Milosevic 4, Papaloukas, Vasilopoulos and Pelekanos didn't score.
Maccabi Rishon 72 - Olympiacos 103
After almost 3 decades in "Gan Nahum", Maccabi Rishon has finally moved to the new "Beit Maccabi". In their first game, they tried to put a fight, but Olympiacos was way out of their league.
Back-to-back halley-hoops by Childress and a three by Halperin broke the tie with a 7:0 run, and the Reds who scored 12 of their first 14 field goals, never looked back. After 28:19 by the end of the first quarter, they stopped the hosts for almost 7 minutes without a hoop, and ran to 56:35 at the half.
Erceg and Papaloukas had no mercy for the "Oranges", and the margin climbed to 84:48 after 30 minutes. Robert Conley finally found his rhythm in the final period, but Halperin had an answer for every make from downtown.
Rishon: Hughes and Conley (6-11 for 3) 18 each, Mossinzon 10, Sha'ashoua 8, Sukar 6 (6 AS), Farhi 5 (6 ST), Tutt 4, Zahavian 2 and Carr 1.
Olympiacos: Erceg 22 (8-8 FG, 5 AS), Childress 16, Halperin 15 (5-6 for 3), Vasilopoulos 9, Vougokas and Greer 8 each, Papaloukas 6 (6 AS, 4 TO), Schortsanitis and Sloukas 5 each, Borousis 4, Teodosic 3, Vujcic 2, Milosevic didn't score.
Halperin. Quick home-coming