AEK met the moment of a showdown between winless Group B teams by blasting away Adecco Asvel 89-63 on Wednesday in Athens. Perimeter offense and defense spelled the difference as AEK raised its record to 1-3, good enough for the middle of the pack in Group B. Asvel fell to 0-4 and must get on the victory train soon to keep hopes up for the Top 16. Nikos Hatzis was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points, while Quadre Lollis added 18 and Toby Bailey nailed 16 for the winners. Husein Besok and Tomislav Ruzic were the only players to play well for Asvel, drilling 13 and 11 points respectively.
With a first victory waiting for one of them in Group B, both teams hit the court willing to take charge. AEK pressed fullcourt, causing Asvel some early mistakes. AEK scored first, on an above-the-rim follow-up by Quadre Lollis. Besok then stepped up for Asvel with 2 baskets and as many blocked shots. Lollis took responsibility for AEK's first 5 points, but Adecco found more offensive rebounds and easy layups by Souchu in the paint to lead 5-8. Besok, Souchu and Tomislav Ruzic controlled the inside for Asvel, but Nikos Hatzis nailed a triple for AEK to tie 8-8.. Giannis Bouroussis came off the bench to take control of the rebounds and inside defense for the hosts. Then Bailey got going with a triple that put AEK ahead 16-12. Bouroussis and Hatzis answered Besok's finger-roll, then Bailey added free throws for a 22-15 AEK advantage after one quarter.
Adecco chose a zone defense for the second quarter, but Hatzis and Bailey killed it with triples from opposite corners. Besok's good move in the paint, Herve Toure's three-pointer and Lyday's fastbreak layup cut the margin to 28-22, but two fade-away jumpers by Hatzis revived AEK until a pair of free throws by Lollis secured the highest lead yet, 35-23. Ruzic scored two skyhooks and Yohann Sangare a crucial three-pointer to prevent AEK from running away. Ruzic added free throws and a layup to get his team as close as 44-35. An exchange of baskets preserved that difference, with AEK reaching the lockers ahead 46-37.
Besok and Andreas Glyniadakis dominated the inside for their respective teams early in the third quarter, but Asvel could not cut into a lead that now reached 52-41 for AEK. Ruzic’s post move cut two points off it, but Nikos Zisis and Bailey scored in the open court as the AEK lead kept climbing, 56-43. AEK’s pressure defense on the perimeter led to two more fastbreaks that Hatzis completed for an 8-0 run and a 60-43 scoreboard Besok’s free throw was Adecco’s first point after almost 4 minutes, and the French team suffered a seven-minute-run without a basket. In fact, Adecco scored just three baskets at the whole in the third quarter, after which AEK led by 24 points, 69-45.
One minute into the last quarter, Bailey made the play of the game, flying in for a tomahawk-style dunk and a 71-47 difference. Asvel finally scored something other than a free throw for the first time in 10 minutes, a layup by Olivier Gouez, but the game was well out of reach. Triples were still flying over the court for AEK as the lead peaked at 82-53. The hosts started early celebrating their first win, while Asvel had to wait for another day to attempt its own.
Thursday, November 25, 2004