It may be that Ural Great Perm, cannot lose at home because it's 7,800 fans just won't allow it. After squandering a 10-point lead to AEK of Athens early in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, Perm woke up and roared away to an 86-77 victory before the delighted denizens of Molot Arena. The victory gives Perm a clear shot at finishing in the top four of Group D with a 5-1 record. AEK, mighty enough to have beaten Panathinaikos in Greece by 20 a few days ago, falls to 4-2. Again, Valeri Daineko was the main man for Perm, scoring 29 points, including 7 in the final 8 minutes after AEK had taken a lead. Ruslan Avleev was a big part of that final push, too, and finished with 21 points. Demos Dikoudis led the AEK comeback with 19 of his 22 points in the second half. He was backed by Andrew Betts with 18, J.R. Holden with 16 and Michalis Kakiouzis with 14.
The first quarter was a drawing of battle lines, with Betts working the inside to the tune of 12 points for the visitors and Holden took up the challenge on the outside, getting 10 points. Daineko and Avleev answered for Perm with 9 points each, but the other home players were largely absent from scoring. Perm was also able to put two AEK starters in quick foul trouble, Arijan Komazec with 3 and Michalis Kakiouzis with 2. With the absence of injured captain Nikos Hatzis that severely reduced AEK's outside scoring game. Two three-pointers by Avleev put Perm ahead 18-11 midway through the quarter, but the visitors were able pull back after 10 minutes to a 28-28 tie.
Mikhailov, coming off the bench, and Karasev got into the action on offense as Perm rattled off the first seven points of the second quarter. Sergei Panov joined the fun with his first four points as the lead hit 41-36 in the middle of the quarter. A step back came with Mikhailov's third foul, but the lead did not waiver, it climbed, especially when Demos Dikoudis got his third for AEK. Now Daineko had one less tough defender to concern him and went on a tear with eight of the next 12 points. Ural finished the half as well as it could have hoped, with a double-digit lead of 53-43.
AEK tried to get back in it quickly, with Betts again coming out strong, but besides him and Holden, the visitors offered little offensive diversity in a defensive quarter. Kakiouzis and Dikoudis were back and contributed, but other guards were silent, with a single bucket by Komazec and 3 points y Vasilis Kakilias to show besides Holden's points. Oddly enough, things went similarly for Perm, with only Mikhailov, Avleev and Daineko over six points until a late three-pointer by Anthony Bowie left the lead at 8 points, 65-57, going into the final quarter.
Most important for AEK at this point was that Dikoudis had outscored Daineko 8-2 in the third period and was coming on strong. He and Kakiouzis combined for the first 7 points of the final quarter, and like that, the lead was cut to 65-64. A second three-pointer in two minutes by Kakiouzis put AEK over the top at 65-67 with 8 minutes left. That, of course, was plenty of time, and Perm responded with its first eight points of the quarter, unanswered, four by Avleev, and two each by Mikhailov and Daineko to lead 73-67 with 4 minutes left. Three minutes later, Dainko and Avleev had padded that lead to 82-73. In a quarter in which it had scored the first 10 points, AEK was now losing 17-16.
Wednesday, November 14, 2001