GHP Bamberg broke its three-game losing streak and finished Group A with a 7-7 record by downing AEK 51-65 on the road in Athens, Greece on Thursday night. GHP Bamberg was already qualified for the Top 16, becoming the first German team to ever do so. Meanwhile, AEK dropped to 3-11 and finished eighth in the Group A standings. Demond Mallet led the winners with 13 points while Spencer Nelson added 11 and 7 rebounds for Bamberg. Slaven Rimac and Panteleimon Papaioakim each had 11 for AEK, which was limited to 15-for-45 shooting accuracy and outrebounded 21-33. Mallet had 10 points almost in a row in the second quarter as Bamberg led 24-29 at the half. Nelson and Uvos Helmanis shined after that and a triple by Mike Nahar made it 40-51 after three quarters. Bamberg only allowed 11 points in the final period to leave Athens with a well-deserved win.
It took exactly 2 minutes, 35 seconds and eight empty possessions before either team got on the scoreboard. That teams was AEK, whose first points came when Lionel Chalmers fed Yiannis Bouroussis for a thunderous dunk. Soon, Robert Garrett came off the bench to beat the shot-clock buzzer from the arc and put Bamberg ahead 2-3. Spyros Panteliadis responded with 4 quick points to put AEK back in front, but Spencer Nelson scored on a dunk-plus-free throw to make it 6-8 for the visitors. Slaven Rimac made a layup and Taylor Coppenrath converted free throws that swung the lead to AEK again, 10-8. For the next 4:22, however, neither team could score more than a couple points. As such, AEK held a 12-10 lead after 10 minutes.
The second period opened with AEK rushing ahead 16-10, whereas Bamberg kept struggling offensively. Eventually, Tim Begley connected from downtown for the guests, but Spyridon Magkounis answered the same way to boost AEK's edge to 19-13. Mallet, scoreless until then, suddenly caugth fire. He nailed a triple that triggered a 2-14 Bamberg run over the next 4 minutes, with 10 of those points coming from him. AEK was forced to call a timeout to try to turn the tide in their favour. Finally, Panteleimon Papaioakeim drew a foul and hit a free-throw with 37 seconds remaining, yet the Yellows stayed lethargic offensively. Nelson gave Bamberg a 24-29 edge at the break, by which time AEK had gone 6 minutes without a shot made from the floor.
The second half got underway with Ioannis Kalampokis firing in a three-pointer. On the other side, Begley hit his second triple to keep the guests firmly ahead, 27-33. When Rimac drilled a mid-range jumper, it was AEK's first basket inside the arc after more than 12 minutes. Bamberg punished AEK on the break with back-to-back layups by Mallet and Nelson to forge a double-digit lead, 30-40. Now, the hosts found a go-to guy in Rimac, whose 5 points trim the difference to 35-42. However, Bamberg and rebounds specialist Nelson dominated the boards and soon the guests reclaimed a 37-48 lead. Chalmers found an open shot beyond the arc to keep AEK's chances intact but Mike Nahar thought otherwise and buried a three from the corner at the buzzer to make it 40-51 after three quarters.
Bamberg marched in style into the fourth quarter behind a triple by Rick Stafford and a layup by Hamann to make it 40-56 lead. When the game looked out of reach for the hosts, Papaioakeim picked up the scoring slack a bit, as he scored on a dunk that capped a 6-0 run and brought AEK within 46-56 with more than 4 minutes left. Bamberg kept its composure and Garrett sank a decisive three-pointer to widen the gap to 46-59 and Helmanis hit another late to make sure as Bamberg headed off to the Top 16 on the right note and AEK saw its season end with a defeat.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Danos Tsakalos, Athens