Two-point victory for Aris over Panellinios, defeat for Maroussi

Aris opened its challenge for the Eurocup, Europe’s second most important club basketball competition, with a 69-71 win over fellow Greek club Panellinios in Athens yesterday. In one of the most eye-catching games held last night for the competition, the two teams were close for the whole of the game, though Panellinios held the lead for the longest time overall. After a 20-14 lead for the hosts, Aris rallied to a 6-15 partial score to move ahead 26-29, before Panellinios fought back to lead 38-36 at halftime. The two sides continued fighting for every ball as the score remained close in the second half. Five times the lead changed hands as the hosts managed to grab a slight 58-55 advantage after 30 minutes. Both teams endured some bad decision-making in the beginning of the final quarter as the game remained scoreless for about three minutes. Panellinios went up 60-55, but Keydren Clark and Blagota Sekulic responded for a 62-63 Aris lead. Anthony Grundy and Manolis Papamakarios helped the hosts to 66-63, but the visitors found solutions again for a 66-68 lead. Aris has Clark to thank for the win as he scored a three-pointer just three seconds from time to take the score to 68-71. Panellinios earned two free throws and Brad Newley missed the second on purpose, but no one from Panellinios could get the rebound. Clark was the man of the match with 22 points including six three-pointers, while Newley scored 17. In the other game of the competition involving a Greek team, Maroussi lost by eight points at Zadar in Croatia. Coach Soulis Markopoulos saw his men maintain the upper hand in the first half, leading for most of it and going to the dressing rooms with a two-point advantage (34-36). However the Croatians stormed into the third period and took the lead, never to surrender it again for an 87-79 victory. Euroleague Following a week’s recess, the Euroleague is back in action as of today, with all three Greek teams playing away from home. First up is Panathinaikos who, after its triumphant win over Olympiakos on Sunday by 17 points (86-69) at home, travels to Poland to face Prokom Trefl tonight. Tomorrow Olympiakos goes to France to face underdogs Le Mans in a game the Greeks will want to win to restore some of the pride lost in the domestic derby. Lastly, Panionios visits Italy to battle it out against Armani Jeans Milano without much hope of winning but still hoping to upset the hosts.