Demos Dikoudis knew the environment, from having spent his whole career before this season in Greece. As such, he was the perfect choice to lead Pamesa Valencia to a 69-77 road with over Olympiacos in Athens on Thursday and a place among the undefeated Group C leaders. Pamesa is now 2-0, alongside Efes Pilsen and Idea Slask Wroclaw at the top of the group chart. Olympiacos fell to 0-2. Thursday's outcome came with personalities. The first was Dikoudis, who came up big with 16 points for the winners. The second was superstar Antoine Rigaudeau, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the last period. Ruben Wolkowyski of Olympiacos led all scorers with 19 points, but he was alone after Christos Harissis, who had 12 points, fouled out midway through the final quarter.
In a very aggressive start, Olympiacos played great defense and managed to limit Pamesa big men Dejan Tomasevic and Demos Dikoudis, the latter of whom appeared as a visitor in front of a Greek crowd after five years in AEK. That defense combined with the easy fastbreak baskets gave the Reds a six-point lead, 13-6, midway through the first quarter. At that time, Boris Gorenc already had 6 points, including a spectacular dunk. But Dikoudis and Tomasevic weren't limited for long. They scored 4 points each as Pamesa managed its first burst, then a Federico Kammerichs three-pointer cut the deficit to a single point 2 minutes before the end of the first quarter. In the last two minutes, Pamesa got stronger in the paint and Dikoudis gave the visitors a small lead, 16-18, after 10 minutes.
In the second period, Giorgos Giannouzakos tried to steal some of the glory with a pair of three-pointers. Before that, Pamesa had escaped by 5 points, 19-24, on a sharp jumper by Alessandro Abbio and a dunk by Dikoudis. The game was very close through halftime, with one more unexpected protagonist, Pamesa point guard Marco Popovic, whose 2 three-pointers, one at the buzzer, gave Pamesa a four-point lead, 29-33, as the two teams entered the locker rooms. Among the Olympiakos perimeter players, only Giannouzakos, who finished the first half with 9 points, did not struggle with Pamesa's defense. Pamesa, meanwhile, had to worry about Fabricio Oberto and Dikoudis having already committed three fouls each.
Exactly as in the first half, when Pamesa dominated under the boards (9-15), the Spaniards controlled the rebounds in the third quarter and got several extra chances on offense. Popovic organized perfectly for his wide open teammates, especially Asier Garcia, who scored 7 points during the quarter. Pamesa held an eight-point lead, 34-42, after 25 minutes, but Olympiakos had the answer. Christos Harissis stepped up with 8 points himself and assisted Wolkowyski several times. Together, they brought the Reds within 45-46 at the end of the quarter. Wolkowyski had 11 points by then.
Victor Luengo came off the bench for an open three-pointer to put Pamesa up 47-51 early in the last period. Neither team shot very well then. Only Wolkowyski and Harissis were effective for the Reds, scoring the first 8 points for their team, while Dikoudis and Luengo connected for Pamesa only with high difficulty. Harissis, however, left the game with a fifth foul trying to cut Luengo's way to the basket. Luengo's 6 consecutive points were like a psychological injection for his teammates. With 4 minutes left in the drama, the teams weres tied 57-57. It was time for superstar Antoine Rigaudeau, who scored 5 consecutive points, and then Oberto, whose crucial rebounds gave the visitors a significant 59-64 lead. Rigaudeau was already hot and his new jumper made it 59-66 just 2 minutes before the end. Wolkowyski was alone under the boards, and scored 2 points there, but then Dikoudis and Abbio made 2 free throws each from the line. As such, Pamesa escaped with a very important road win.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Kostas Sotiriou, Athens