Estudiantes defeat AEK in FIBA Champions League Opener
A poor first quarter ultimately became the undoing for an AEK side that had made a promising domestically…
AEK dropped their campaign opener in the FIBA Basketball Champions League as the Athenians were edged 87-79 by Spanish side Movistar Estudiantes.
Delroy James scored a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but the American’s efforts were not enough to help AEK avid defeat at OAKA on Tuesday night. The night was instead highlighted by a 28-point effort from Estudiantes’ Sylven Landesberg who, along with Omar Cook’s 9 assists, powered Estudiantes to a Matchday 1.
Estudiantes opened up the first quarter with a 7-2 run as the Spanish side benefited from excellent perimeter shooting in the early going. Despite an early fightback from AEK, Brown kept his side in front with a dominant performance in the opening quarter as Estudiantes held a 31-15 lead by the end of the first quarter.
AEK started the second quarter more urgently and quickly trimmed the deficit. Back-to-back fast-break baskets from Vassilis Xanthopoulos and Edin Atic set the Enosi on their way. AEK would manage to claw within single digits shortly before half-time, but a late surge from Estudiantes before the interval ensured the Spanish side had at least a double-digit lead (48-38) at halftime.
The second half started poorly for both sides, but in particular for AEK as the Enosi missed several shots before Xanthopoulos finally tallied the first basket of the frame to cut the lead to eight (48-40). Estudiantes would respond through Landesberg to restore the double-digit lead. Much like the opening exchange, the Spanish side would have an answer for every AEK attack as the Spaniards held onto their 10-point advantage (65-55) heading into the final quarter.
A strong start to the quarter saw AEK put the pressure on the visitors, and by the midway mark of the fourth quarter AEK had cut the Estudiantes lead to just one point thanks to a Xanthopoulos lay-up. A 15-3 run by the visitors would re-establish Estudiantes’ lead as the Spanish side kept AEK at bay in the dying moments to improve to 1-0 in the group stage.
In other action in Group C, Bayreuth defeated Rosa Radom 96-79; meanwhile, Venezia face Banvit in a late tip-off on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Matchday 1 action in the group concludes with Strasbourg facing Union Olimpija in Slovenia.
AEK will look to bounce-back in the competition when they face UR Venezia in Italy next week, while Estudiantes will open up their home schedule in the competition proper when the Spanish side host Polish side Rosa Radom.
by Peter Katsiris