First place in Group D was a well-earned reward on Tuesday when Aris BSA 2003 outlasted visiting Turk Telekom 79-75 in a thriller in Thessoliniki, Greece. Despite the injuries to starters Spencer Nelson and Savvas Iliadis, Aris was able to stay undefeated at 3-0 and drop previously unbeaten Turk Telekom to second place at 2-1. It could have gone either way when Tutku Acik's three-pointer tied it up 75-75 early in the last minute, but Dimitris Tsaldaris and Keydren Clark wrapped up the victory down the stretch for the hosts. Clark finished with 21 points and 5 assists for Ris, while Sean Marshall added 15 points, Lazaros Agadakos and Nikos Barlos 10 each. Blagota Sekulic was also a key factor, with 8 points and 11 rebounds. For Turk Telekom, Roderick Blakney put together 18 points and 3 steals, Erwin Dudley 15 points and 4 rebounds, while Michael Wright chipped in 12 points and Acik 10. Aris won such a close game in part because it took care of the ball better, allowing only 9 turnovers to 14 for Turk Telekom.
The first half confirmed why the two teams entered Tuesday's clash in a first-place tie, both undefeated. They took turns exchanging the lead, making for a very interesting contest. Aris's defense was unable to cope with the Turk Telekom's shooters, which meant that the hosts were in danger of taking advantage of the home-court advantage with an early, solid lead in front of their fans. Clark and Barlos kept Aris going strong, however, as they combined for 24 points as the biggest threats against Turk Telekom's basket. On the other hand, the Turkish guests had no trouble shooting, as they made 15 of 24 two-pointers and 3 of 6 triples on their way to a 41-44 halftime lead.
Agadakos inspired Aris after halftime, scoring 7 points in a few minutes as the hosts took over the scoreboard again. Sean Marshall also helped his team's cause with his shooting and good defense. As such, Aris went into the final quarter leading 67-62 and looking like favorites for their third straight win. Turk Telekom managed, however, to make that lead seem like it occured ages ago as the visitors surgedinto the lead again, 69-70, on Roderik Blakney's three-pointer on the shot-clock buzzer with 6 minutes remaining. The battle was joined again. The Aris response was immediate as the hosts went on a 6-2 run Marshall, Tsaldaris and Clark all scoring. Turk Telekom was still close enough that Acik's three-pointer with less than a minute left to play meant a 75-75 tie which either team could have turned into a win. That team was Aris, however, as Tsaldaris made a key basket 30 seconds before the finish and Clark's free 6 seconds from the buzzer secured a key victory for the hosts.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008