AEK Athens recorded its first win of the season with a tough 82-76 decision over Brose Baskets Bamberg in Athens, Greece. The two teams that were both in the Euroleague last season played an exciting encounter, that featured tied scores in the final period, before solid defense and good outside shooting allowed AEK to record its first win. AEK improved to 1-1, while Bamberg, which struggled at home last week, dropped to 0-2 despite improved play. Christos Tapoutos led AEK with 17, Ioannis Gagaloudis added 14 and Prodromos Nikolaidis finished with 12. Zelly Wesson recorded a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, Darren Fenn, who missed last week's game, added 15 and DeJuan Collins had 15 points and 5 assists. The game was a fast-paced affair that saw the lead switch sides numerous times. AEK led by 6 after 10 minutes, Brose Baskets came back for a 42-44 halftime advantage. Athens started the third quarter in style and recaptured the lead, holding on for 64-60 after 30 minutes. Bamberg tied the game early in the fourth and then took a 64-65 lead, however Nikos Vetoulas connected on a three and the hosts never looked back.
Both teams came out looking a little rusty, before AEK's Jasmin Perkovic and Brent Scott combined for 6 early points as the hosts took an 8-3 lead. As Bamberg's shots kept rattling out, Prodromos Nikolaidis knocked down a triple to widen the lead to 11-5. Fenn scored on an offensive rebound, but on the other end Perkovic answered back with a three-point play. Wesson picked up the scoring slack for the visitors and when Ivan Pavic scored on a jumper, Bamberg clawed its way back to 17-16. A pair of free-throws by Gagaloudis and a tip-in by Kostas Maglos restored a 21-16 advantage for the hosts after eight minutes of play. Then Sotiris Nikolaidis came off the bench to beat the buzzer, but 5 points from Fenn pulled Bamberg within 25-23. A basket by Tapoutos and a solid defensive effort that led to a S. Nikolaidis fastbreak layup allowed AEK to build a 29-23 lead at the end of the first quarter. AEK raced out to a double-digit advantage for the first time early in the second period before Bamberg coach Dirk Bauermann called a timeout and switched to a zone defense. Fenn and Wesson scored for Brose Baskets before Tapoutos exploded for a one-handed jam that boost the AEK margin to 38-31. Collins drove to the basket and earned 6 points from the charity stripe to keep Bamberg within 42-37. Nestoras Kommatos struggled to find the basket and Collins remained hot with a three-pointer to make it a 2-point game. AEK ice cold and soon a basket by Wesson capped an 0-9 run that helped the guests to grab the lead, 42-44, at halftime.
AEK stormed out in the second half and a drive by Perkovic ignited a 7-0 spurt that forced Bauermann to call another timeout. Soon Collins scored an uncontested fastbreak layup to make it 49-46, but it was clear that AEK's defensive effort was taking a toll on Brose Baskets. S. Nikolaidis did a great job containing Collins, which meant that others had to step up. Fenn and Wesson provided baskets to cut the deficit, yet Vetoulas connected on a three-pointer. Collins drilled two more free-throws and then Gagaloudis punished the zone defense with a three-pointer for a 64-58 lead. The guests responded with Collins and the quarter ended with AEK holding a 64-60 advantage. Bamberg came out in the final period determined to turn the tide. Baskets by Adam Harrington managed to rally the rally the charges for a 64-65 lead. Nikos Vetoulas drained another crucial triple, giving AEK a 2-point advantage. Tapoutos and Gagaloudis remained hot and pushed the yellows ahead, 71-67, however Wesson was clearly dominating in the paint and with his fifth offensive rebound, the guests pulled again within two points, 71-69, with four minutes to go. It was time for Kommatos to step up and the former Euroleague champ did not disappoint the passionate fans, as he stroked one from downtown. With one minute left, Collins went to the line, but this time he split a pair, unlike Gagaloudis who remained calm and widened the gap, 77-71. Vincent Yarbrough fired in a triple, yet Tapoutos put the game out of reach when he finished a fastbreak with authority with 14 seconds left.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006