PAOK Thessaloniki had a solid night on Tuesday as it defeated Dexia Mons-Hainaut at home by 83-69 in a Group D duel to take its first win of the season. A good first quarter by the hosts allowed them to pull away by 23-14, and from that point on, they managed the lead until the final 14 points. Thanks to the win, PAOK improves to 1-2 in the group, while Mons drops to the same record. Blagota Sekulic led all scorers in the game with 27 points and added 11 rebounds for a big double-double. Drago Pasalic added 19 points, Jerome Allen 14 and Vlado Scepanovic 13 for PAOK. For Mons, which was hurt by 5-for-21 three-point shooting, Week 2 MVP Kevin Houston led the way with 23 points and George Evans had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Allen opened the scoring with a triple that was soon copied by Houston for Mons. Sekulic put in back-to-back layups and Scepanovic fired beyond the arc to give POAK fresh air at 12-5. Even though Evans cut the distance by scoring his first points, a Mons timeout changed when the players came back to the court, as Sekulic dominated under the glss to push the difference for the first time into double digits, 18-8. PAOK kept extending the margin to 23-14 after 10 minutes, but the visitors bridged the quarters with a six-point run capped by Bertengeh Nicholson's dunk. Allen increased PAOK's advantage and was copied soon by Sekulic, whose dunk broke the Mons basket and forged a 15-minute delay early in the second quarter, with the hosts ahead 27-20. PAOK came back and extended the margin to double digits again in the middle of the second quarter, 34-21. Jim Potter netted a mid-range jumper and Evans dunked trying to wake up Mons, but the duo of Pasalic and Sekulic contributed back-to-back high-low plays, sending their team ahead by 43-30 headed into the lockers.
The guests showed up with a different attitude after the break, as Shwanta Rogers led a 0-6 run that drew Mons as close as 43-36. Pasalic and Allen tried to protect PAOK's lead but Houston found the way to the basket with both a triple and a pair of free throws to make it 50-41. The hosts remained scoreless for a couple of minutes and Houston was unstoppable, pulling Mons even closer, at 50-47, in the middle of the quarter. Scepanovic and Pasalic came to the rescue for PAOK, hitting shots from the arc before the third quarter ended with the hosts up 59-48. As PAOK tried to slow the tempo, Houston and Evans made a last push for Mons, but Pasalic was ready to answer with another triple and Sekulic dunked to keep PAOK's advantage healthy at 71-61. By the time Allen stole the ball twice to finish fastbreaks and Pasalic fired a final time from the arc, PAOK's fans could start celebrating their team's first victory of the ULEB Cup season.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Christos Lazarou, Thessaloniki