Peristeri of Greece climbed to the top of Group A on the basis of an electric three-point shooting display which made for a 91-81 comeback triumph over Estudiantes of Madrid. The final score was deceiving because Estudiantes came out strong and took an eight-point lead, 18-26, after the first quarter.
But that is when the home team started raining three-pointers. Remember the name of 19-year-old shooting guard Mikalis Pelekanos, because there are few long-range shooters who can drop four consecutive three-pointers without hitting anything but net. What's more he did it on four consecutive possessions to start the second quarter. That was a nice substitution for coach Argirios Pedoulakis.
By the time the quarter was finished, Peristeri had packed 36 points into 10 minutes. They missed only one shot on their first 11 possessions, and nine of those were good for three points each: the four three-point shots by Pelekanos, two more by Alexis Papadatos, one by Costas Tsartsaris, and three-point plays by American two-guard Alphonso Ford and Danish center Michael Anderson.
What's even more strange is that Estudiantes hung tough despite that three-point onslaught, in fact survived it to lead 52-50 at halftime. The visitors from Madrid played a variety of zone defenses throughout the first half in attempts to stop Ford, who sported a league-leading 26 points per game.
That seemed to work in the first quarter, when Ford contributed to a rash of Peristeri turnovers, usually trying to force passes through the ever-changing Estudiantes zones. Ford was sitting on the bench when the three-point rally lifted Peristeri in the second quarter.
But while Ford seemed quiet, he only remained so until the end, when Estudiantes was still hanging tough, indeed was within 76-75 with five minutes remaining. Ford fed Anderson for a 78-75 lead, and from that point, the game was in Ford's hands. And he didn't let it get away, scoring three consecutive baskets in a 10-1 stretch that left Estudiantes with no time to respond.
Ford finished with 18 points, Tsartsaris 17 for the winners, while rock-steady power forward Alfonso Reyes came of the bench to score 21 for Estudiantes. Peristeri ended up making 12 of its 19 three-point shots and Estudiantes 9 of 22, for an impressive 51 percent accuracy rate between the two teams.
By making a few more threes than Estudiantes, Peristeri finds itself with a one-win advantage atop an increasingly tough Group A.
Thursday, December 07, 2000