Greek legend Panagiotis Yannakis is still working his magic.
After coaching Greece to the EuroBasket 2005 crown, Yannakis resumed his duties with Maroussi in Greece and nearly everything has gone right for him and his team in the EuroCup.
On Tuesday, his men won a thriller against visiting Vertical Vision Cantu, 59-58, in the Round II Group J opener for both sides.
|Alexandros Kyritsis nailed the game winning free throws for Maroussi|
After calling a time-out, Cantu pushed the ball up court and got it into the hands of their star center Kebu Stewart but the American missed a lay-up with just one second left.
Maroussi won by the smallest margin possible.
Roderick Blakney poured in a game-high 23 points, pulled down five rebounds and dished out three assists to lead Maroussi, while Canadian international Rowan Barrett, who has missed part of the season through injury, had 17 points for Cantu.
As statistics go, none will end up as important as the 100% at the free throw line on 20 attempts for Maroussi. Cantu were a respectable 22 of 30 (73%), but that was not nearly good enough on this occasion.
Cantu took the lead midway through the first quarter and went in front by as many as six points but were never able to pull away.
Maroussi kept tabs on their excellent perimeter threat, New Zealand international Phill Jones, for the entire contest.
Jones scored just five points on two of 11 shooting, including one of five beyond the arc.
Maroussi moved ahead again 33 seconds into the final quarter at 46-45 on a dunk by Jared Homan.
Neither side scored again until 5:14 remained, when Jones rang up his first two points with a jump shot for a 47-46 Cantu lead.
Blakota Sekulic went up strong inside for two for Maroussi, and then he spotted Blakney outside the three-point line the next trip down the court and the American nailed the shot for a 51-47 lead.
Kyritsis sank two free throws with 3:34 to play to extend the lead to six, but Cantu came right back and Jones who had been so quiet until the fourth quarter, scored again, this time burying a three-pointer to cut the deficit in half.
After Homan replied with a lay-up, Goran Jurak made a jumper to leave Maroussi with a 55-52 advantage.
Maroussi were unable to put the Italians away.
Blakney lost his cool and turned the ball over, and Jurak was fouled and made two from the line.
Blakney again lost possession, and Nicolas Mazzarino answered with a lay-up at the other end to put Cantu back in front at 56-55 with 1:17 remaining.
Maroussi called timeout to discuss their options, but when play resumed, Kyritsis missed a jumper and Jurak rebounded.
At this point, Cantu appeared to be in the ascendancy. They were unable to take advantage, though.
With 45 seconds to go, Jurak had the ball stolen by Kyritsis and Blakney was fouled shortly after. He made two at the line with 27 seconds to play to put the hosts back on top and to set up a frantic finish.
Davide Lamma, who only just joined Cantu for the remainder of the campaign from Montepaschi Siena, then took center stage. He was fouled with 14 seconds to go by Christoforos Stefanidis, and the Italian international sank both shots to give Cantu a one-point edge.
Maroussi called timeout, and when played continued Kyritsis was fouled by Andrea Michelori. He made both shots to put Maroussi back in front.
The finale was set and Stewart, sadly for Cantu, missed at the end to secure the one-point Maroussi triumph.
Maroussi travel to Russia and face Dynamo Moscow Region next week, while Cantu will be at home against RheinEnergie Köln.