A week after its first loss, Montepaschi came home and defeated AEK Athens 77-58 on Wednesday to stay in touch with the leaders in Group B. Montepaschi now stands at 2-1 with at least share of third place with Scavolini Pesaro. AEK fell to 0-3. The match was tough and nervous, especially during the first quarter, when the game remained strictly balanced. Starting with the second quarter, however, Montepaschi started putting a hand on the victory and from then on AEK found it hard to penetrate the home team's defense. defence. For the hosts, Vrbica Stefanov drilled 23 points by making 7 of his 11 shots from the court. He was followed by Carlton Myers with 12 points. Mindaugas Zukauskas added 9 and 6 rebounds, while Michalis Kakiouzis was near a double-double with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Toby Bailey was the top scorer for the guests with 13 points, while Quadre Lollis sank 11 to go with 13 boards. Nikos Zisis added 10 points, while Yoannis Bouroussis had 9 points with 6 rebounds.
Stefanov opened the game with a mid-range jumper and Giacomo Galanda imitated him soon, on the 24 seconds buzzer. For the guests, Andreas Glyniadakis scored with a sweet layup, and then Bailey tied it 4-4 from the baseline. The pace of the match grew even if the plays were often blocked by tough physical contacts. The game became tense and for this reason the score stayed very low. AEK found its points in the backcourt, especially from Nikos Zisis and Bailey. Montepaschi relied on Stefanov, while also trying to put the ball into the hands of its frontcourt. Efhimios Rentzias came on to score a one-handed dunk. AEK had an impressive start from Davor Kus, who tied the score at 16-16 with a triple from the top, but Kakiouzis closed the quarter with a layup agains his old team to give his new one an 18-16 edge after 10 minutes.
Myers scored his first basket with a drive and Pero Antic answered taking the elevator from the baseline. He dunked for a 21-18 scoreboard and the match suddenly caught fire as a triple from each team raised the temperature in the arena. Myers opened the way to a six-point lead for Montepaschi, but Kus fired his second triple. Bootsy Thornton came off the bench and tried attacking the ring, but the hosts missed several shots and the game remained quite even. Lollis worked well in the low post with some fakes and pulled AEK within 26-23, but the guests had trouble defending one-on-one from the perimeter as Stefanov and Myers pushed Montepaschi ahead 32-23. Zisis hit from 5 meters after a high pick-and-roll, but Stefanov scored now from the paint on an assist by Galanda, who added a fadeaway jumper. Kus scored again, but Stefanov couldn't be stopped an Mindaugas Zukauskas added a late layup for a 41-29 halftime lead for Montepaschi.
Zukauskas and Myers sent Montepaschi on a 5-0 run to a 46-29 lead to start the second half, but AEK had another beautiful basket by Zisis, gliding in air to avoid Rentzias. Yoannis Bouroussis scored 4 in a row for the guests, but Montepaschi kept a safe 13-point lead. That grew larger when Stefanov drilled a three-pointer. AEK tried to involve its frontcourt more in the offense, and Lollis had some good one-on-one plays, but Montepaschi rejected this effort with a triple by Rentzias. Lollis hit a baby hook, while Sotirios Nikolaidis added 2 free throws, but David Vanterpool closed the third quarter for Montepaschi with a basket that made the score 59-44.
Stefanov returned to the 6.25-meter line to give Montepaschi an 18-point lead early in the final quarter. Kakiouzis went coast-to-coast before firing in the points that saw the lead reach 20, at 64-44. Bailey had good impact with 4 points now, but with 5 minutes to play the scoreboard was on 69-49 and the outcome seemed obvious. Bouroussis still believed and inspired a 6-0 AEK run, but a comeback was not to be as Stefanov added to an excellent performance with his personal signature, a rainbow three-pointer. Montepaschi managed what time was left to make sure of its second Group B victory.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004