Aris Thessaloniki have kept their FIBA Europe League hopes alive with a crucial win over Polonia Warbud. Both teams knew that the winner of this game would advance to the play-offs, while the loser would sit out the rest of the European season.
|Smush Parker was everyhwere for Aris|
Aris had the homecourt advantage, but also the pressure of being last season’s FIBA Europe Champions Cup winners. Nonetheless it didn’t seem to effect them as they hit Polonia for 111 points, the second hightest total in this year’s competition.
The final score, with a 19 point difference does not mirror the whole game. Despite the fact that Aris was ahead during the whole game, Polonia showed that they did not come to Greece as tourists, but rather to fight for the tickets to the next round of this year’s FEL.
A 32 point first quarter from Aris set the tone of the game. Polonia kept up with the hosts and trailed by 6 at the end of the period.
However, Aris continued to extend their lead througout the game and Polonia never threatened to win the game.
It was in the middle of the third quarter when three Aris-players took control of the game: Toby Bailey, William "Smush" Parker and Nestoras Kommatos hitting one 3 pointer after the other, getting huge support by Fedor Likholitov cleaning everything up in the paint.
As a result, the score of 86-71 after three quarters soon was spread to 25 points (99-74) with an amazing 13-3 run for the home team. The last fifteen minutes of the game reminded the fans of a streetball-match, full of fast breaks and amazing slam dunks.
Parker was 2 rebounds shy of a triple double for Aris. He finished with 21 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds. Kommatos was his usual reliable self for Aris and he top scored with 22 points.
Having taken the game, Aris Head Coach Barton had the chance to give playing time to all his players and pleased the spectators with a more open style of play.
Polonia forward Samir Leric had by far his best game of the season, scoring a game high 24 points. Unfortuantely for him and his team it was a classic case of too little too late, and any hopes of European glory will have to wait another season.
Game-MVP: Toby Bailey