AEK of Athens earned its first road win of the season and third victory in a row by edging Palalottomatica 70-73 in Roma in a thrilling finish on Thursday in Group A. Nikos Hatzis scored 4 of the final 5 points for the winners, and AEK raised its record to 4-5, good for a share of fourth place while Lottomatica is now alone at the bottom, 3-6. Hatzis led the winners with 20 points, 10 in each half, while Horace Jenkins bagged 18 and Nikos Zisis 12. Carlton Myers led all the scorers with 22 points, but after a shining first half, in which he tallied 15 points with 3 of 4 on triples and a perfect 4 of 4 from the foul line, was contained by AEK defense. Marko Tusek added 11 points and Corey Alexander chipped in 10, but made just 1 of his 6 three-point tries.
Zisis and Myers got the game going strong by scoring 10 of the 15 points on the board after 3 minutes as, after five lead changes, Lottomatica was ahead 8-7. After 2 scoreless minutes, Lottomatica big man Rashard Griffith bagged 4 straight points to make it 12-9. Alexander extended the cushion to 14-9, but Pantelis Papaioakim put up 3 points and Hatzis a mid-range jumper to tie it 14-14. Point guard Sotiris Nikolaidis continued the run for AEK to a 14-17 visitors' lead, but back-to-back triples by Alexander and Myers got Lottomatica back in front, 22-18 A a layup from Blagota Sekulic fixed the first quarter scoreboard at 22-20.
Marko Tusek extended Lottomatica's advantage to 26-20 early in the second quarter. Alex Righetti chipped in a three, and after a quiet minute, Alessandro Tonolli copied him from long distance shot to match the hosts' biggest margin, 32-25. AEK came back with an 0-4 break, however, to within 32-29. Soon, Jenkins missed his three-pointer while Davide Bonora canned his own for Lottomatica's first eight-point cushion, 37-29. Back-to-back triples by Nikolaidis and Zisis saved AEK, then a short jumper from Papaioakim re-tied the score 37-37 after 17 minutes. Big man Andreas Glyniadakis would slam to give AEK a 38-41 lead before Jenkins assisted Hatzis for a buzzer-beating triple that gave the Greeks a 40-45 advantage at the half.
Lubos Barton opened the second half with a triple for Lottomatica and Myers followed his example to cut the deficit to a point, 46-47. Barton made an amazing dunk to retake the lead, 48-47, midway the quarter, and Alexander extended it to 50-47. Jenkins made a steal and jumper to keep AEK close, while Myers reached 20 points himself in reestablishing the three-point advantage, 52-49. Still Jenkins chipped away, eventually tying it up , 53-53, on a pair of foul shots. Barton broke the tie with 4 consecutive points, but the former Roma pointg uard Jenkins popped his first triple in response. Tusek's free throws with 24 seconds left meant a one-basket lead for Lottomatica, 58-56, after 30 minutes.
Alexander increased his team's margin to 60-56 early in the final quarter. After Zisis got three points back on one shot for AEK, his potential go-ahead jumper was blocked by Tonolli. Tusek-time came in the form of 5 straight points but Roma continued to have trouble stopping AEK's guards. Jenkins posted the basket for 65-63. After a flurry of free throws, Hatzis drove for a layup to forge a 68-68 tie with 2 minutes left. The AEK veteran then repeated his two-point play, got fouled, and added a free throw to give the Greeks a big advantage at 68-71. After a Tusek dunk, Hatzis scored 1 of 2 free throws for a 70-72 AEK edge with 16 seconds left. Alexander missed his inside shot to tie, however, and Lottomatica had to foul, allowing Jenkins to hit his only foul shot to finish a game in front of his old fans by winning with his new team.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Alessio Ditta, Rome