A hard-fought battle to stay out of the Group B basement fell to the hosts as PAOK outlasted pesky Cholet Basket of France 74-62 on Tuesday in Thessaloniki, Greece. PAOK evens its record at 1-1 and shares second place in the group, while Cholet is alone in last place at 0-2. J.R. Giddens scored 18 of his 22 points after halftime to lead the winners, including back-to-back triples that put PAOK in charge midway through the third quarter. Giddens doubled his fun with 12 rebounds, as well. Marcus Goree followed him with 19 points, while Dimos Dikoudis added 11, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, while Rashad Wright scored 10. For Cholet, Fabien Causeur pumped in 22 points and Donnie McGrath 11, while Rudy Gobert grabbed 12 rebounds. PAOK's favorable difference of 18 assists to just 5 for Cholet was the big difference statistically, however.
Cholet was able to stake an early 5-7 lead on a three-pointer by Carl Ona Embo, but with Dikoudis playing both scorer and passer, the scoreboard soon changed. PAOK took off on a 10-0 blast that started with his layup, ended with his free throw and included his second assist, on a triple by Wright, in the middle. Gobert stopped Cholet's slide before Robert Hite made it a game again with back-to-back shots from the arc, the second of which ended the first quarter with an 18-15 score. Gobert and Causeur extended Cholet's run to 3-12 with a dunk and layup, respectively, to open the second quarter and re-take the lead, 18-19. Wright's next triple was answered by McGrath as part of a series of 8 lead changes in as many minutes that didn't end until Ioannis Kalampokis drilled from downtown and Giddens added a basket to let PAOK reach the locker room ahead by 36-33.
Randal Falker and Demetrios Nichols quickly tied it up for Cholet out of the break, but Giddens and Dikoudis kept PAOK one step ahead on the scoreboard, at 42-40. Giddens then swung the battle even more toward PAOK with a pair of triples in succession to make it 48-40. Causeur matched one of those shots, however, Giddens couldn't be stopped, and soon Goree was copying him from long range for the game's first double-digit lead, 55-43. When McGrath answered in kind for Cholet, Giddens went to the free throw line to preserve a 56-46 score after 30 minutes. Cholet's fourth-quarter reaction was swift as McGrath, Hite and Luc-Arthur Vebobe quickly cut the difference in half, to 58-53. Despite points by PAOK veterans Dikoudis and Goree, Causeur kept the visitors within 62-57 with 4:31 to play. That's when Giddens drilled a killer triple and Kalampokis a two-pointer, making it 67-57. Those two and Goree protected the lead the rest of the way to give the fans in Thessaloniki a first Eurocup victory this season to take home with them.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011