Navarro, en la final del 20009 contra l'Olympiacos / FOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS - FCB.

Olympiacos is Barça Regal’s rival this Friday (20:00) in the semi-finals of the Final Four in Istanbul. The best team of the 90s according to FIBA is one of the teams in the hunt for European glory, this is their third time in the Final Four in the last four years. However, the first and only time that the Greek team won the title was in 1997 in Rome, when they beat Barça Regal led by Djordjevic, Karnisovas and Deñas in the final.

From less to more

Last season, Dusan Ivkovic’s team wasn’t able to qualify for the Final Four, which was played at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. With deep and renewed team in comparison to last year, the Greeks started off their Euroleague campaign with a record of six wins and four defeats in the first phase of the competition. Olympiacos’ performances were fairly discrete in the Top 16 as well, where they lost three times and went on to the following stage behind the group leaders.

However, the team’s performance in the Euroleague has improved, in the quarter-finals they beat Montepaschi Siena, a regular of late in the Final Four. The Greek team has been able to react in the decisive phase of the competition and, just as Xavi Pascual warned, they “come into Istanbul on the best form they’ve had all season.”

Rest since the end of April

The Olympiacos players will come into this Friday’s match well rested. On April 29 they played, and won, their last official match of the Greek League in the play-off against Panionios, which means they’ve qualified for the final against Panathinaikos. The objective of Ivkovic’s team is to be 100% ready for the match against Barça Regal. However, this apparent advantage could backfire seeing that Dorsey and Mantzaris haven’t played many official games since their respective injuries.

40 minutes of intensity

Olympiacos plays their matches with the utmost intensity. Their basketball is one of a physical nature that doesn’t allow the players to give up on any ball or play. The manager has employed the young Greek players Papanikolaou, Mantzaris, Sloukas and Katsivelis and the American university players Locas and Howard to get the desired result out of his team. But Ivkovic also has veteran players on the team like Antic, Dorsey, Hines, Gecevicius and the ex-Unicaja man, Printezis.

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