AEK start hot, Thessaloniki clubs stumble in Basket League Opening Weekend
GREEK BASKET LEAGUE - ROUND 1
|Date||Home Team||Score||Away Team|
|7-Oct-17||Faros||98 - 68||Panionios|
|7-Oct-17||PAOK||73 - 79||Prometheus|
|7-Oct-17||Kolossos||64 - 63||Rethymno|
|7-Oct-17||AEK||91 - 72||Trikala|
|7-Oct-17||Koroivos||71 - 55||Aris|
|8-Oct-17||Olympiacos||68 - 71||Panathinaikos|
|9-Oct-17||Lavrio||78 - 65||Kymi|
AGONAsport.com’s Peter Katsiris reviews the action from an exciting opening weekend in the Greek A1 Basket League.
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The derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos might have dominated the headlines, but the opening weekend of action in the Greek Basketball League was a memorable one across the board.
AEK continued a strong start to the season with an emphatic win at home, while it was more of a reality check for Aris and PAOK as both Thessaloniki clubs stumbled out of the gates to start the season.
One of three league curtain-raisers took place in Larissa on Saturday, where Gymnastikos put behind a midweek Greek Cup defeat to thrash Panionios 98-68 at EAK Neapolis. Surging to a lead out of the gates, Gymnastikos were led by Roeland Schaftenaar’s 14 points and 6 rebounds. The home side blew the game wide open with a 30-12 run in the second frame, meaning a late surge by Panionios was far too little too late despite a 20-point performance from Zisis Sarikoupoulos.
In Athens, AEK followed up their demolition of Rethymno in the Greek Cup with an impressive 91-72 win against Trikala at OAKA. With the game tightly poised after the first half, AEK dominated the second frame to take a commanding 42-27 lead into halftime. Dusan Sakota’s 16 points and Chinemelu Elonu’s 10 rebounds would ultimately power the Enosi to an opening day win; however, Trikala gave a good account of themselves in the second half. Offseason acquisition Lamond Murray Jr. tallied 25 points for Trikala, but the Sakafliades were left to rue their sloppy second quarter at the final buzzer.
Meanwhile in Rhodes, Kolossos edged out Rethymno 64-63 at Venetokleio. Trailing by three at half time, Kolossos rebounded in the third quarter with a 23-14 run. Rethymno would bounce back in the final frame and tied the game at 62-62. A clutch shot from Ramon Harris put Kolossos up 64-62, but Stefan Moody could only hit one of his two free throws as the visitors missed out on a chance to force overtime. Kolossos’ Malcolm Griffin led all scorers with 15 points, while team-mate Marvin Jones tallied 11 rebounds. Hugh Robertson and Moody finished with 13 points apiece, with the latter likely still ruining what could’ve been had he hit the game-tying free throw.
In Saturday’s late game, PAOK slumped to a 79-73 defeat at home to Promitheas. The Patra-based outfit came out firing in the first frame to take a six-point lead into the second quarter, before a 19-9 run by the visitors saw PAOK down by 16 at halftime. PAOK did respond in the third quarter to cut the deficit to just three heading into the fourth quarter. Promitheas’ resolve, although tested in the final frame, would hold firm as PAOK stumbled to a second defeat to start the season following a midweek loss to Aris in the Greek Cup. Mouhammad Faye led the way for Promitheas with 18 points, while former team-mate Lucky Jones stepped up to lead PAOK scorers with 19 points. Owen Klassen was the stand-up man for PAOK, however, as the Canadian tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort.
PAOK’s crosstown rivals, Aris, highlighted Sunday’s matinee action. Despite a memorable return to the club midweek, Panagiotis Giannakis’ honeymoon as Aris coach came to a swift end as Koroivos were clinical in a 71-55 win at the Amaliada Indoor Hall. With Brent Petway sidelined for the season opener, Koroivos executed their game plan effectively to storm out to a 20-7 lead after the opening quarter. Aris showed some offensive prowess to cut the lead in half before halftime (37-31), but a lop-sided finish to the third quarter saw Koroivos nurse a 21-point lead (63-42). Aris would hold Koroivos to just eight points in the final frame, but the offensive task was just too much of an ask for an Aris side that was missing their lead playmaker. Keith Benson tallied 16 points for Aris in Petway’s absence, while Koroivos’ Quenton DeCosey led all scorers with 17 points.
The final game of the round saw Lavrio defeat Kymis 78-65 at the Lavrio Indoor Hall. The hosts hit 11 three-pointers en route to the victory, which never seemed in doubt especially after Lavrio rushed to a 17-point lead (27-10) after the first quarter. Kymis did rebound after the first frame to keep pace with the home side to the final buzzer, but a poor first quarter was ultimately the undoing for the Euboean club. Mckenzie Moore scored 15 points for Lavrio, while Cameron Jones also added 15 points for Kymis.