PAOK woes continue in FIBA Champions League
A nightmare start to the season for PAOK sees the Thessaloniki outfit drop their third match in the space of a week…
PAOK’s early season woes continued on Tuesday night, succumbing to a 103-70 thrashing at the hands of Riesen Ludwigsburg on Matchday 1 in the FIBA Basketball Champions League.
Kevin Dillard tallied 12 points after being held scoreless at the weekend, but the American was outshone by Ludwigsburg’s duo of Thomas Walkup and Dwayne Evans who scored 18 points apiece.
Having lost to bitter rivals Aris in the Greek Cup last week, and Promitheas at the weekend in the Greek Basketball League, PAOK were handed their third defeat in as many games as action got underway in the Basketball Champions League group stage.
Surprisingly, PAOK got off to a strong start in the contest as the Thessaloniki side looked determined to erase their domestic troubles with a strong showing in European play.
Despite falling behind 4-0 with two early baskets from Ludwigsburg, PAOK stormed back with a 10-3 to take the lead (10-7). Strong perimeter shooting from the Germans restored Ludwigsburg’s lead briefly, but it was PAOK who lead after the first quarter (24-20).
Complacency crept in the PAOK squad by the time the second quarter tipped-off as the Thessaloniki allowed Ludwigsburg back in front with the Germans storming out to an 11-0 run to lead 31-24 just three minutes into the second quarter. PAOK stopped their ailing temporarily with Lucky Jones converting on one of his two free throws. After the brief disruption from PAOK’s offense, Ludwigsburg’s attack resumed regular service en route to a 48-40 halftime lead.
Despite the strong support from the travelling PAOK fans, the Thessaloniki outfit were unable to take advantage and their scoring woes showed again in the third quarter. Ludwigsburg’s clinical offense opened up a 17-point lead just four minutes after the interval, with the deficit growing to 26 points (78-52) by the end of the third frame.
The fourth quarter was all about damage control for PAOK, but with a visit from Panathinaikos in domestic play looming in the horizon, it seemed that Ilias Papatheodorou’s men were already eyeing Sunday’s derby action. Thus, Ludwigsburg padded their lead – and more importantly their points differential – in the final frame as the Germany side ran out 33 point victors at the final buzzer.
Ludgwigsburg’s win takes the German side to the summit in Group C, but only points differential after Gaziantep and Neptunas Klaipeda notched narrow wins over SikeliArchivi Capo d'Orlando and Elan Chalon respectively. Action in the group concludes on Thursday night when Ventspils host Iberostar Tenerife.
On Matchday 2, PAOK host Gaziantep in Thessaloniki, while Ludwigsburg travel to Spain to face Tenerife.
by Peter Katsiris