In a night of big results in Group B, the only road team to find its way to victory was AEK Athens, whose 88-90 decision against Scavolini in Pesaro, Italy ruined the home debut of new local coach Marco Crespi. The victory, AEK's second in three games, lifted its record to 2-4 and supplied even more promise for the future because of the debut of center Sandro Nicevic, who had been injured until now. Nicevic exploded for 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting and pulled 10 rebounds to lead the winners. Toby Bailey followed with 18 points, Quadre Lollis 16 and Nikos Hatzis 15 for the winners. Scavolini, whose record fell to 3-3, got 32 points from Charles Smith, who nailed 6 of 12 three-pointers, while Alessandro Frosini and Hanno Mottola contributed with 15 points each.
Nicevic didn't start, but Bailey got AEK going with all the points in a 3-5 lead for the visitors after 2 minutes. Scavolini found good solutions with its own big men, Mottola and Frosini, who found 7 points under the rim to put their team ahead 10-7. However, Scavolini suffered in defensive rebounding and Andreas Glyniadakis of AEK made easy room for himself in the paint, as did Nicevic and Pero Antic when they came on the floor. Because AEK could not convert its offensive rebounds, however, when Bailey scored his ninth point, the visitors were still behind 16-15. It took Nikos Zisis to make 4 foul shots and get AEK a 19-21 edge, but Smith tied it 21-21 at the foul line before the quarter ended.
Smith kept on scoring in the second quarter, starting with a low post move then assisting Frosini and nailing a triple. His signature on 7 points sent Scavolini up 28-21, then Silvio Gigena added a basket to that difference. AEK offensive anaemia ended with a fastbreak by Zizis, but Smith and Gigena answered with a couple of dunks to enliven the crowd grab a double-digit advantage, 36-25, midway through the quarter. After an AEK timeout, Lollis posted his first basket, then Matteo Malaventura and Toby Bailey exchanged three-pointers. AEK kept itself close with an high-low play that Lollis finished, plus free throws that came thanks to a technical foul whistled on Robert Archibald of Scavolini. AEK had a 10-0 run going and enlarged it with baskets by Nicevic and Hatzis to take a 39-41 lead.Crespi called on Aleksandar Djordjevic, who was expected to remain sidelined due to a intestinal virus, but AEK managed to stay ahead 42-43 at the half after another bucket from Nicevic.
Mottola nailed the opening basket of the second half beginning a succession of lead changes: first Nicevic, then Teemu Rannikko of Scavolini and finally Lollis made the game close, but Mottola fired from downtown to lift up Scavolini, 50-47 after 23 minutes. Nicevic proved unstoppable for Scavolini's defense, however, and his 16th point evened the match at 53-53. Nicevic and Lollis added free throws for a four-point AEK lead. Then Davor Kus stole and fed Lollis for a reverse layup that engraved a 53-61 difference for the guests. Off a timeout, Smith sank 5 points for Scavolini, but AEK worked easily against the zone defense and closed the third quarter up 64-68 in spite of 6 straight points by Frosini of Scavolini.
Hatzis opened the final quarter shooting over the zone from the left corner. When Bailey scored a three-pointer, too, AEK was up 66-74. Djordjevic came on and assisted Smith for a three-pointer and Marko Milic for a slam dunk in a 7-0 run that pulled Scavolini within 73-74 with 6 minutes left. As AEK struggled to find decent shots, Smith struck from downtown to re-take a 76-75 lead for the hosts. However, Bailey resurfaced with a three and 4 points in the low post by Nicevic sent AEK back in front, 78-82, with 4 minutes to go. Mottola scored inside and Smith nailed another three as the scoreboard swung again in Scavolini's favor, 83-82. After Smith put the hosts up by 2 points, Lollis erased the edge with a basket-plus-free throw that put AEK ahead 85-87, while Mottola and Frosini fouled out for Scavolini. In the final minute, Smith, Rannikko and finally Djordjevic missed three triples in a row. AEK didn't panic, but Scavolini had a last chance when Scarone scored the first of his free throws with 2 seconds to go. He missed the second and Milic rebounded but missed his shot and AEK had a big Group B road win to take back to Athens.
Thursday, December 9, 2004