AEK Athens of Greece gave it all a visitor could but lost to host Adecco Asvel Basket 86-84 in overtime at Lyon on Wendesday in Group D. Amara Sy, the 20-year-old forward of Asvel unexpectedly established himself as the key player of the French club in the estra time, stealing two balls and doing the dirty job in the paint at the center position though he is a true small forward. With all the other inside players of ASVEL having five fouls, Sy also scored two big baskets and even secured the win with a free throw.
After a quick start by Arijan Komazec - a post up on Harold Mrazek and an offensive rebound - the ASVEL forward Nikola Radulovic, who took the place of Yann Bonato in the starting five, started to show his skills and hit two baseline jumpers, including a three-pointer. ASVEL led 10-6 after three minutes. Points came in streaks. Michalis Kakiousis scored seven points in a row, putting Radulovic into foul trouble and giving the AEK a 15-16 lead. Finding inside solutions, with Kakousis and Betts, the Greek team little by little set its pace on the game, and then a J.R. Holden three-pointer pushed the visitors' advantage to 18-26. Only seven consecutive Kyle Hill points allowed ASVEL to cut the AEK lead to 25-28 by quarter's end.
Same scenario in the beginning of the second quarter; more three-point shooting by Hill and another inside basket for Betts and a 28-30 for AEK. Which plan was the best? ASVEL's, to this point. As a matter of fact, the French club's point guard, Hill, hit one more three-pointer, and Boscia Tanjevic's team led 34-31 after fourteen minutes. A timeout by AEK's coach, Dragan Sakota, did not seem to change anything since a Radulovic hit a three off the glass for 37-31. Anyway, in basketball, you need to be effective in the paint. And AEK is. Getting the ball inside, through passes or drives, the Greek club fed Dimos Dikoudis, who scored seven points in three minutes, and gave his team back the lead at 39-40. In the last minute, ASVEL'S Tim Nees answered to Dikoudis, and the French club trailed only by one at the half time buzzer (41-42).
Nees kept rebounding and put his team ahead briefly after halftime, when the game changed complexion. AEK started to shoot from the outside (Kakiousis, Hatzis), and ASVEL put the ball in the paint to Frigout. It was tied 47-47, but soon, in this not-so-defensive game, AEK's shooting skills made a difference : 57-51 for the Greek club after 28 minutes, notably thanks to Hatzis. Tanjevic tried various defenders on AEK's shooters, without success. Only two gutsy drives by Bonato and Arsene Ade-Mensah allowed the ASVEL to within 57-61 for the fourth quarter.
Center Thalamus McGhee scored his first basket as ASVEl came back to within two points (60-62). Hatzis immediatly answered from the three point-line. With long possessions and rebounding, AEK took the game in hand. Frigout's fifth foul, after 14 points and 5 rebounds, with four minutes to play looked like the lethal twist of a suddenly defensive fourth quarter. Wrong. Hitting four free-throws in a row, and sending Tim Nees to dunk on a fast break, ASVEL tied the game at 70 with less than two minutes remaining. Betts missed two free throws but, on the other end of the court, ASVEL forced two three-point shots, and the game was still up for grabs in the last minute. Kyle Hill launched another long distance shot, missed it, and Betts was sent to the line. He scored both throws, and Radulovic tied the game at 72-72, on two free throws, with one second to play. Overtime.
Wednesday, October 10, 2001