A first-place tie was the prize on Tuesday as ASK Riga defended its homecourt by downing Maroussi Costa Coffee 84-70 in Group A, where home teams have been dominant so far. Brilliant three-point shooting helped ASK turn an even first half into a six-point lead that would never drop to fewer than 4 points in the second half. ASK's 2.21-meter center, Bruno Sundov, continues to be a matchup nightmare for opponents, hurting them as much from the inside as the three-point-line. Sundov reached double figures in both points and rebounds with 23 and 10, respectively, to lead the winners. His teammate Uvis Helmanis, another big man, was only one rebound short of a double-double with 19 points and 9 boards, while teenager Dairis Bertans came off the bench to please the Riga crowd with 13 points. Konstantinos Charalampidis led a perfectly balanced Maroussi offence with 12 points. Pat Galathes posted 10 and five more scorers contributed with at least 7 points for the guests, who will try to avenge the loss against ASK when the two teams meet week in Greece.
ASK wasted no time at the start of the game as Sundov opened the scoring from downtown and Helmanis dunked and made the free throw for a three-point play. Maroussi stayed unimpressed and reduced ASK's lead to a single point on a basket by Loukas Mavrokefalides. Jarod Stevenson matched a Helmanis triple with 3 free throws and, soon enough, Charalampidis put the visitors in front, 9-10. ASK answered with a 6-0 run before Stevenson evened it up at 15-15. After two more ties, Corey Brewer went to the line to give ASK a 20-19 advantage to end the first quarter. Power forward Calathes, who came on for Maroussi in the second quarter, needed only a few seconds to dunk and a minute more to do it again. Helmanis and Sandis Valters scored shots from beyond the arc to retake the lead, and then Bertans and Sundov expanded it to 33-27 for the hosts. After Shawn Huff hit a triple for the visitors, Bertans and Sundov combined for 5 points for ASK. Had it not been for two baskets by Charalampidis, ASK lead could have had an even bigger advantage than its 41-36 halftime edge.
Big men Mavrokefalides and Sundov exchanged three-pointers to start the third quarter, then Brewer and Helmanis helped ASK get a 10-point advantage, forcing Maroussi head coach Anastasios Markopoulos to call a timeout. That helped the guests to start scoring again, but the lead didn't shrink as Sundov was doing the same at the other end, until Fanis Koumpouras and Stevenson made consecutive triples to reduce the difference to 55-51. But Helmanis scored 2 free throws then and Bertans connected on another long shot on the third quarter's last possession, making it 60-51 and 10 minutes to go. To start the final quarter, Maroussi went inside to Mavrokefalides, who delivered, and got help from Shawn Huff. However, Helmanis and Sundov kept boosting the hosts at the other end, and they got a helper as 1.80-meter guard Andrius Mazutis dunked and added a layup for the hosts. Calathes stepped up with 6 points for Maroussi, who scored easily enough now, but couldn't prevent ASK from doing so, too. With 2 minutes to go, Christoforos Stefanidis lowered the difference again, to 76-70, and Maroussi needed a stop that just wouldn't happen as Valters released ASK's 11th triple of the night, and Riga could celebrate.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008