A super turnaround after halftime helped Bamberg outgun visiting AEK 71-61 on Thursday to take over sole possession of fifth place in Group A halfway through the regular season. Bamberg was down 13 at the break but dominated the last 20 minutes to the delight of 8,500 fans at Arena Nurnberger Versicherungen. Bamberg now has a 3-4 record and sits alone in fifth place, while AEK fell to 2-5 and tied for sixth with Union Olimpija. Derrick Phelps led the winners with 18 points and 6 assists. Demond Mallet followed with 14 points, while Robert Garrett and Tim Begley both came off the bench for 11 each. AEK got 17 points from Lionel Chalmers, plus 10 and 8 rebounds from Giannis Bouroussis, but no other player topped 6 points as the visitors were held down in a 47-23 second half. Bamberg's shooters took a long time to warm up, but when they did made 11 of 25 triples compared to 5 of 15 for AEK.
AEK was without injured Amit Tamir and Spyros Panteliadis, but Ioannis Kalampokis gave the visitors a 0-6 lead as Bamberg started cold and needed a timeout after 3 scoreless minutes. Koko Archibong answered the call for the hosts, hitting a three-pointer to cut lead in half. Phelps drove twice past Chalmers for layups but missed the bonus free throws as many times, so AEK remained ahead 7-8. Then, Chalmers and Dror Hagag hit three-pointers in a 0-9 run to a 7-17 AEK lead after 7 minutes. Phelps answered again with a triple of own as Bamberg slowly found its shooting form and fought back with a 6-0 run. But Bouroussis drained free throws to give himself 7 points in the quarter and AEK a 13-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Bamberg had kept Taylor Coppenrath scoreless in the first quarter, but the AEK rookie drained his first shot in the second. Uvis Helmanis was able to counter with a three-pointer, but Chalmers hit a driving layup to keep the guests in charge at 16-28. The AEK defense would not let Bamberg inside, but on the outside, Demond Mallet drained a three-pointer to make it 19-28 halfway through the second quarter. Both teams kept up their defensive tenacity and Chalmer's layup was the first basket in over 3 minutes. His next made it 19-32. After Michail Pelekanos buried a jumper for AEK, Tim Begley and Mallet sandwiched three-pointers around one for the guests by Rimac, all in the last 45 of the half. That barrage left AEK leading 24-37 as the visitors were leading in rebounds, too, 10-21.
Bamberg picked up its defensive intensity straight out of the locker room, as Mallet stole from Chalmers and drove for a layup. Chris Ensminger's 3 free throws made it 29-39 and prompted an AEK timeout. That didn't slow Bamberg, however, as Mallet and Phelps buried back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead down to 4 points, 35-39. A long jumper by Pelekanos and one that floated in by Chalmers steadied AEK, but Bamberg kept charging as Spencer Nelson scored his first basket to make it 40-43. Chalmers kept his cool and buried a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down and Nelson's hand in his face. But Begley kept Bamberg warm wit 2 three-pointers and a put-back in the lane for a 49-52 score. Mallet would end the quarter with a long jumper that practically completed Bamberg's comeback, although AEK was still up 51-52 after 30 minutes.
Garrett, signed for the rest of the season earlier in the week, showed his appreciation by starting the final quarter with 8 straight points, including a pair of three-pointers, that vaulted Bamberg to a lead at last, 59-54. The hosts also kept up their defensive intensity as Nelson came up with a monster block, although his offensive struggles continued. After a Bourousis free throw for AEK, Archibong's reverse layup made it 61-55. Bourousis and Ensminger swapped baskets for a 63-57 score going into the last 2 minutes. Phelps somehow got a reverse layup to drop with 1:27 remaining as Bamberg opened an eight-point lead, 65-57. Phelps added a put-back on a break-away and Mallet went the reverse route to put the game and a third victory away for Bamberg to finish the first half of the regular season.
Thursday, December 15, 2005