AEK of Athens keeps on winning, this time at the height of the Group D race and with a 69-74 road win at Partizan in Belgrade, good for a 7-2 record and continuing sole possession of first place. For Partizan, it was a second Euroleague game in seven days, and its record fell to 5-4 record and uncertainty in the race for the Top 16. Despite the cold hand of Demos Dikoudis, who missed two of 10 free throws in the final quarter, Jim Bilba added 2 three-pointers and those were the keys of AEK's finish. Leading scorer was J.R. Holden with 21 points, Dikoudis added 16 and Michalis Kakiouzis ended the game with a double double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.
The game in Belgrade started with real miserabile percentage from the field for both teams. In the first two periods AEK shooted for three 0-11 and Partizan~s percentage for two points was 30 (6-20). Both teams missed lot of easy points under the rim. It was the game far away from Euroleague standards and the audience was totaly disapointed. Due to a holiday, there was less crowd in Pionir Arena than usual. Only 3,269 spectators expected better game in second half. Partizan started with an 15-2 run and with much stronger defense on AEK center Andrew Betts. The result was Partizan lead 55-47 at the beggining of the last period.
The audience was ready to celebrate but AEK wasn't ready to give up. Jim Bilba hit two triples, Dikoudis hit penalties while Holden synchronized AEK lines on both sides of the floor. When Jovo Stanojevic was fouled out and Nikos Zisis hit one more three-pointer the end was visible.
Partizan missed the chance for an domestic win. AEK came to Belgrade without Arijan Komazec due to the misunderstanding between him and AEK menagment. Greek team played one of the worst games this season but it was enough for the new victory.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001