Polonia Warbud took one step closer to the FIBA Europe League play-offs after a remarkable 4th quarter and 90:75 home victory over Aris Thessaloniki.
Polonia were forced to play most of the game without center Antonio Harvey who was suffering from the flu and was only on the floor for 9 minutes. That left Bosnian national team captain Samir Leric alone in guarding the Aris big men.
Aris, on the other hand, were playing their first game under new head coach Charles Barton, who replaced Vangelis Alexandris this week.
It was Polish forward Michal Hlebowicki who stepped up for the absent Harvey in the first quarter. He scored 8 points, was strong on the boards and had a spectacular block against Aris big man Ryan Stack.
Polonia established supremacy on the boards, but strong outside shooting from Nestoras Kommatos (11 first half points), Germaine Jackson and Stack, saw Aris take a 36:37 lead into the break.
Aris looked firm favourites to take the game as they increased their advantage in the 2nd half. The Greeks led 41:49, before Polonia came back to 51:53, but Aris rallied and finished the quarter ahead, 54:61.
The 4th quarter looked no different as Aris once again stretched their lead, this time to 9-points, 56:65. It was not until the 5-minute mark that Polonia suddenly came alive and a flurry of points, completed by a 3-pointer from Eric Elliot, tied the score at 67:67.
From that point onwards, Polonia could seemingly do no wrong. Coach Barton called for a timeout, but as soon as play started again Rolandas Jarutis hit a 3-pointer, followed by a 4-point play from Walter Jeklin.
Barton was forced to take another timeout but Polonia was on a roll and as soon as play resumed, Jeklin hit another three and the score was 77:69. Aris could not recover from the home team’s onslaught and Polonia went on to secure a sensational victory, 90:75.
Jarutis was the game MVP after scoring 22 points on 6/8 shooting and 9/10 free throws.
Nikolaos Vetoulas led Aris with 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Wojciech Kaminski, Head Coach Polonia Warbud:
"I’m very happy that we could win this game. We showed once again, that our team has a real character to play basketball. In the fourth quarter our key was to play successful defense. Aris was leading by nine points, but we still believed that we could win this game. I appreciate Rolandas Jarutis, which played excellent tonight."
Charles Barton, Head Coach Aris:
"Polonia’s speed really hurt us! They played a hard and good game. We couldn’t get control on their small players, especially Rolandas Jarutis. He just killed us. Another reason that we lost was their very good penetration and strong defense in the fourth quarter. I knew that Warbud is the team, which could get back to the game. I told my players, but… we lost."
Rolandas Jarutis, Polonia Warbud:
"I think that the most important moment for us was when the coach took the first time-out in the fourth quarter. He told us to play hard defense, and thus good play in offense will come. We played like this and this is why we won."
Ioannis Lappas, Aris:
"I appreciate Polonia for the hospitality in Warsaw. It’s very hard to say why we lost this game. Despite this lost, I think that our play improved after this couple of days with the new coach Charles Barton."