AEK of Athens has started off the second half of the regular season by avenging one of its two losses in the first half. Playing at home in Athens on Wednesday, AEK had no mercy on visiting Adecco Asvel Baskets as it stormed to a 87-65 victory and a 6-2 mark in Group D. That is good for at least a first-place tie depending on how Ural Great and Partizan Belgrade, both 5-2, make out in their games on Thursday. Veteran scorer Arijan Komazec showed he can still lead an offense by pouring in 21 points, 17 of which more than accounted for a 15-point AEK lead at the half. He was seconded by AEK's regular dynamic duo of J.R. Holden and Demos Dikoudis. The point guard put up 18 points, as did last week's Euroleague MVP, Dikoudis, who also led AEK to a 45-29 rebounding advantage. The loss considerably complicates life for Asvel, which remains in sixth place, two spots off potential advancement, at 3-5. The French visitors got only five points out of leaders Yann Bonato (15 points) and Nikola Vujcic (14) after the half, while John Celestand added 11 and Nikola Radulovic was held to 6.
Komazec, using penetrations instead of his better-known perimeter, led AEK at the outset and during the whole first period. The Croatian forward scored nine points in those 10 minutes as AEK never trailed. Asvel, led by another Croatian player, Nicola Vujcic (7 points) did manage to tie the game at 13-13, but an AEK run of 5-0 was sufficient to boost the hosts to a 22-19 lead at the end of that quarter. In the second, however, good defense with a lot of three-pointers allowed AEK to open the gap to 15 points. Komazec continued to score with little problem, whether on drives or long-range shots, and was joined in the fun by Holden and Dikoudis. Holden, after not scoring at all in the first quarter, came up big, with 8 points in as many minutes, including consecutive three-pointers that demoralized Asvel. Dikoudis, the previous week's Euroleague MVP, was big on defense and reached double figures in scoring with an impressive slam dunk. Holden gave AEK the first double-figure margin at 41-31, soon followed by a Komazec three. The lead shot up to 15 points, 54-39, with a pair of Nikos Zissis free throws to the end of the first half. Asvel had most of its offensive weapons have been trapped by AEK's defense, but by the half, Vujcic and Yann Bonato had scored 12 points each. Komazec was already up to 17 points for the home team, Dikoudis 12 and Holden 8.
The third quarter seemed to be a one-team show. Asvel had a lot of problems, especially inside, where it allowed AEK to play its game. Just two minutes after the start of the third quarter AEK took a 20-point lead, 61-41, on a three-pointer by Nikos Hatzis. Coach Dragan Sakota took advantage of the lead to rest Holden and Dikoudis, using Nikos Zissis as point guard and Jim Bilba, who was playing against his former team. Bonato committed his fourth personal foul and scored just two points during the third period, as nothing worked for the French team. Andrew Betts opened the gap to 23 points, 71-48, to finish off the quarter. The last quarter was more of the same. AEK had dominated the game and was not about to let it get close.
Wednesday, December 12, 2001