Before Promitheas Patras’s Round 4 game at ratiopharm Ulm, Kendrick Ray already had a huge role on the team. He was Promitheas’s top scorer and among its top three in rebounds, assists and steals.
So when halftime arrived in Ulm and he was staring down a stat line that showed his worst game of the year - 2 points, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and a PIR of minus-1 in 14 minutes – there were reasons for concern. Was it an off night? Had Ulm’s defense found a way to stop him? Was Ray struggling under Coach Ilias Zouros's new system?
By the time the final buzzer had sounded, no one was asking those questions. Instead, Promitheas fans were applauding a stellar second half led by Ray in which the team took control of the game for good and even led by as many as 13 points before settling for a 65-71 victory.
It was the team's second straight win since Coach Zouros was handed the reins and its first road win of the season.
Ray was at the center of it all with 9 points in the third quarter alone as Promitheas took the lead for good. He started attacking spaces in the Ulm defense to get mid-range jumpers or shots in the lane with his coach signaling him and cheering him on at every stop of the clock. Ray scored twice and had an assist in a 0-10 run that gave Promitheas a 36-43 lead. After Ulm tied it, Ray had a layup and a pull-up three in a 0-11 run that gave his team the lead for good.
When it was time to put the game away, Ray set up Charis Giannopouls for a three – his only shot of the night – and then knocked down a triple of his own to make it 53-66 in the fourth quarter, the visitors' biggest lead of the night. He finished the game with 14 points on 4-of-5 two-point shooting and 2-of-4 shooting on threes. Ray also had 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 5 turnovers. His final PIR of 13 meant he had a PIR of 14 over 17 second-half minutes.
“We're just trying to come out here and play with new energy,” a humble Ray said after the game.” We have to play on the defensive end and I think we're starting to do that and it’s converting to wins.”
Ray appears to have the full backing of his coach, who was naturally pleased with Wednesday's result, but knows there is so much more untapped potential in both his guard and the rest of the team.
“The team showed that they have character. They fought from the first second and to the last. We controlled an up-tempo team, we played defense,” Zouros said to the tv cameras after the game. “Unfortunately, we didn't shoot well at the moment offensively because we don't know yet how to work together, the spacing and everything.”
If the “spacing and everything” come together over the next few weeks – Promitheas does not play its next game until it hosts Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on December 8, Ray and Promitheas will become a very dangerous team in Group B.