If a road win in the Euroleague is a sign that a team has arrived, then Opel Skyliners of Frankfurt have arrived. The Skyliners won like old hands as they pocketed their first Euroleague victory, 89-93, on the road Thursday at Peristeri of Greece. The win was developed from the very first minute and consisted of a certain dominance in all aspects of the game. Five Frankfurt scorers in double figures were led by Chad Austin with 22 points, most in the crucial second half. Marcus Goree and Virgil Stanescu added 19 each, and Anatoly Lochmanchuk and Pascal Roller 15 each. Frankfurt raised its record in Group B to 1-1 while Peristeri fell to 0-2. Byron Dinkins led Peristeri with 21 points, followed by Kostas Tsartsaris with 20 and Alexis Papadatos with 10.
Frankfurt surprised everybody at the beginning of the game. Stanescu, the forward from Romania, posted up and tallied 9 points in less than 7 minutes, and Pascal Roller, with his 3 three-pointers, gave the German team an impressive 9-23 lead two minutes before the end of the first quarter. Peristeri, missing a win in all first five official games, had that psychological problem to overcome as well. The hosts seemed trapped between that and an excellent Frankfurt's performance both on defense and offense. What's worse, Adam Wocjik committed his third foul after five minutes of play. Frankfurt concluded the first period ahead 16-25, but the home team was starting to wake up.
Over the course of the second quarter, with the effective penetrations of Byron Dinkins and the scoring opportunities given to Kostas Tsartsaris, Peristeri managed to make a 10-2 run and to cut the margin to 26-27. Shortly before the end of the first half, a Maurice Carter jumper gave Peristeri its first lead at 33-31, concluding a 17-6 run overall. Despite the comeback and Stanescu going without a point during the whole second quarter, Frankfurt didn't allow Peristeri to take the lead on a permanent basis. The teams reached halftime tied 37-37. To that point, Peristeri had shot 0-for-8 from the three-point line, compared Frankfurt's 4-for-12. But the visitors had committed 13 turnovers, the Greeks only six. Individually, Tsartsaris and Stanescu led in scoring by 15 and 9 points respectively. Concerning the foul situation, Wocjik and Michael Andersen of Peristeri went to the break with three fouls each, as did Goree and Lochmanchuk of Frankfurt.
After halftime, outstanding defense and consecutive three-point shots - one of them especially impressive, scored by Roller on a fastbreak - gave Frankfurt the opportunity to open the tempo and repeat the same scenario as in the first quarter. Austin exploded in the third quarter to lead the Germans team on a 13-2 run as Peristeri, because of fourth fouls committed by Wojcik and Mikalis Pelekanos, didn't play defense at all. Goree gave the visitors a 13-point lead, 42-55, in minute 25. Peristeri's ability to make up a big point difference was also being jeapordized. After two minutes Wocjik was fouled out, leaving the court with just 3 points - comparing to 27 in Peristeri's Euroleague opener - and Tsartsaris seemed weary. He scored only two points in 10 minutes and Frankfurt concluded the third period ahead 53-63.
The fourth quarter started with the answer of Dinkins, who didin't accept the status quo and tried to rally his team. He hit consecutive three-pointers and brought Peristeri to within 7, at 64-71, with 6:45 to play. But Goree was still there. He seemed jealous because of Dinkins' performance and he bumped the Frankfurt lead back up to double figures, 64-74. Papadatos scored a three-pointer which gave Peristeri one more chance to fight for the victory, 72-79, but Skylines didn't panic. The German team kept playing its game, stayed safely in front by 5 to 6 points and despite Dinkins, managed to register its first Euroleague victory, an absolutely deserved one, by 89-93.
Thursday, October 18, 2001