Tau Ceramica overcame big early deficits to beat visiting AEK 77-62 in Group A on Wednesday. Tau lifted its record to 3-1, good for at least a share of second place, while AEK dropped to 2-2. Luis Scola led the winners with 16 points, Predrag Drobnjak and Travis Hansen each had 13 while Kornel David had 10 for Tau. Ioannis Kalampokis, Giannis Boroussis and Spyros Panteliadis each had 12 points for AEK, which only scored 38 points after the first quarter. Taylor Coppenrath, Boroussis and an outstanding Panteliadis combined for 19 points in a 8-23 opening run for AEK. Drobnjak and Roko-Leni Ukic led Tau's comeback with a 21-6 run. Even though AEK managed to keep a 34-37 halftime edge, Tau's more physical defense wore down the guests until Hansen made consecutive triples midway through the final quarter to seal the outcome.
A hook shot by Scola opened the scoring, but AEK needed just 2 minutes to make its mark with a solid 2-8 lead on three-pointers by Panteliadis and Bouroussis. Free throws by Panteliadis and Coppenrath extended the edge to 9 points, 2-11, causing Tau coach Pedro Martinez to call Drobnjak off the bench. Tau looked to rally behind easy baskets by Drobnjak and Casey Jacobsen, but Bourousis and Coppenrath responded by giving AEK a 10-point margin, 6-16, midway through the quarter. Tau seemed unable to hit any open shots as AEK patiently worked for the right moments on offense. As such, the visitors kept increasing the gap to as many as 15 points, 8-23, before a mild reaction by Tau down the stretch fixed the first-quarter score at 12-24.
Tau looked more focused defensively from the start of the second quarter. That intensity helped reduce the gap to only 7 points, 19-26, behind 4 points by Drobnjak and a triple by Ukic. Turnovers by AEK and a technical foul on its coach, Lefteris Kakiouzis, allowed to Tau to come within 24-28 midway through the quarter, by which time the hosts were completely back on track. Ukic tied the game at 29-29 with a three-pointer after 17 minutes, and that seemed to be the moment for a new game to start. AEK didn't panic, and managed to build a short but comfortable margin from the free throw line. Despite the momentum having been with Tau, the first half closed with a 34-37 edge for AEK.
Scola's 3 points right after intermission tied it again, 37-37, but AEK reacted quickly thanks to Giannis Kalampokis to retain its slim edge. Things changed radically after that, as back-to-back three-pointers by Hansen and Pablo Prigioni combined with Drobnjak's jumper lifted Tau to a 47-41 lead after 24 minutes. AEK remained scoreless for almost 4 minutes, but Tau didn't take advantage, so a new 0-7 run for the guests, capped with a short jumper by Kalampokis, made it a 47-48 game. The hosts responded with a triple from Prigioni after which the sided remained balanced, exchanging baskets and the lead. Sergi Vidal, who was in doubt before the game because of a foot injury, sparked Tau to finish ahead 57-54 after 30 minutes.
Vidal kept pushing and nailed a corner three-pointer to extend the gap to 60-54 on Tau's first play of the final quarter. AEK's problem now was not defense. Rather, the guests remained scoreless for the first 6 minutes of the quarter, allowing Tau to escape to a 62-54 edge on a two-handed fastbreak dunk by Kornel David. Even then, the outcome was not clear as AEK's good defensive effort prevented Tau from making runs. When Bouroussis ended AEK's drought with a couple of free throws, in fact, the score was 62-56 score, still not too late. But by the time Hansen hit back-to-back three-pointers it certainly was, as Tau's lead reached 11 points with less than 3 minutes to go and AEK looked to tired to rally. exhausted and unable to react. As such, Tau kept punishing the guests until the end of the game, which showed a definitive score of 77-62.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Natxo Mendeza, Vitoria