PAOK defeated Asefa Estudiantes 77-72 on Tuesday, keeping the Last 16 opportunities for both teams heading into Week 6. An Estudiantes win in Thessaloniki would have landed the visitors a ticket to the next round, and the hosts needed a 12-point victory to seal their passport from Group F, but neither result was netted. PAOK improved to 3-2 and controls its destiny. It will move on to the Last 16 with a win, but travels to Benetton next week. Estudiantes will have to try to beat Chorale Roanne and hope for PAOK to lose in Treviso. Rawle Marshall scored 18 points and Lazaros Papadopoulos posted 13 plus 11 boards to lead PAOK. Donnie McGrath netted 12 points on 5 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc and Robert Dozier and Justin Gray added 11 apiece, with 8 boards for Dozier. Estudiantes, which fell to 2-3, was paced by Daniel Clark with 16 points. German Gabriel added 13 and Jayson Granger had 10.
Estudiantes started things with a dunk by Granger and Josh Asselin added three baskets to make it 3-10. PAOK was able to hang in by crashing the boards and getting to the line, as 6 of the hosts’ first 12 points came on free throws. An 11-0 PAOK run capped by a Papadopoulos layup gave the home side a 14-10 lead. Granger responded by scoring on a driving layup to tie it at 17-17, though Dozier, Todor Gecevski and Papadopoulos established their inside power, as they all scored to finish off the first quarter with a 23-19 advantage for the hosts. A McGrath three-pointer at the start of second quarter gave PAOK its biggest lead of the game at 28-19, but Clark answered for Estudiantes with a long bomb of his own and Gabriel converted a three-point play to get the visitors within 3 again. While the visitors played aggressive defense and totaled 6 steals in the half, both teams seemed to run away from the inside game that dominated the first quarter, settling for triples. And deep shots by Giorgios Dedas and Gray made it 40-29 at halftime.
Granger and Marshall traded layups to start the second half, but PAOK quickly stretched the margin to double digits on another triple from McGrath. It was all Granger and Clark for Estudiantes, as they combined to score 13 of the team’s 27 total points in the third quarter. Pancho Jasen and Gabriel were finally able to get going by the end of the period, as Estudiantes mustered a 2-12 run that cut the deficit to 57-56 with 10 minutes left to play after Clark rattled the rim with a dunk. Marshall came out of the gate firing after the break and his triple gave PAOK some breathing room, while Estudiantes kept relying on Marshall’s hot hand to stay close. McGrath hit from beyond the arc again and PAOK suddenly were in position to think about winning by 12 for Last 16 qualification after Gecevski’s jumper made it 66-58. But Gabriel decided then to show his range from beyond the arc, and the big man converted on two consecutive attempts to make it a 1-point game once more. Gecevski shot back with his own long-range bomb to make it 70-66 with four minutes to play. Consecutive layups by Nik Caner-Medley and Albert Oliver tightened the score again at 72-70, but PAOK’s big men took care of business from the free throw line in the last minute and sealed the home win.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010