Maroussi may have parted with their coach Darko Russo last week but they have plenty of spirit and that was evident when the Greek side came from behind to win at Spartak St Petersburg in their EuroCup Elimination Round 2 first leg showdown.
With Nikos Lindaros put in temporary charge following Russo's departure, Maroussi had the unenviable task of playing Panathinaikos at the weekend but they threw a scare into the Greens by storming out to a 28-12 lead in that game before falling 79-68.
In Europe, the team from Athens was engaged in a very tight battle on Tuesday night when a basket by Spartak center Milovan Rakovic appeared to put them in the ascendancy.
The jump shot sparked an 11-1 run for a 56-47 advantage with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. A three-ball by Joseph Smith capped the surge.
Maroussi held their nerve.
Experienced guard Nikos Bountouris and Jason Parker struck from behind the arc to close the gap to 56-53 by the end of the third quarter.
Yet Spartak managed to keep their noses in front until 2:06 remained in the game.
That's when Ermin Jazvin tied the contest at 62-62 with a jump shot, and then nailed another jumper to take his points tally to a team-high 17 points and put Maroussi in front for good.
Neither side scored the rest of the way until Maroussi's Konstas Charalampidis split a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go.
Smith, who had a game-high 24 points for Spartak, had one last look and attempted a shot from three-point range but he was off target as Maroussi claimed a gritty victory.
Now the club has a slender lead when the second leg is played on November 27.
Maroussi will know they must improve their free throw shooting after making just 10 of 19 (52.6%) on the night.
As for Spartak, they will be looking to cut down on the turnovers. They committed 17 to just 11 for Maroussi.
Nikolaos Linardos, Maroussi coach:
“For us this was a very important win after two losses in the Greek league, mainly for psychological reasons. I don’t know if Porta will play for Spartak in the next game because he is good player and a very important part of the team. We prepared well for this game, watched two games of Spartak against Unics and Dynamo Moscow. We saw that Spartak is an organized team. The best thing for me is that we had only 11 turnovers. And especially only three in the second half. We tried to play better defense against Joe Smith who is a very good scorer and managed it well in the second half. All the team played good defense in the second half which was the key to victory.
Travon Bryant, Maroussi forward:
“I agree with the coach. We played good defense in the second half today. We tried to be more focused today and finally we won. Spartak played well but we played tough defense and finally won”.
Oleg Okulov, Spartak coach:
“I want to congratulate Maroussi for the excellent win. I think my team played two different halves. We played well before the break and played a terrible fourth quarter. Probably the reason is that we played our seventh game in 20 days and six of them were away – from Odessa to Kazan. My players are tired. We had only two days to prepare for this game because we came back from Samara only last Saturday. Our next game is already on Thursday. We have a very important match in Russian league. But before the second game against Maroussi we will have four days break.”
Joe Smith, Spartak guard:
"That was a really tough game. Any game against a Greek team in Eurocup is tough. All the time we had good streaks, we led by 8-10 points but then made 2-3 mistakes and Maroussi came back. We had an awful last quarter. Our players missed some simple and open shots. I think we were unlucky at those moments. We just have to go to Athens and win to go through to the group stage.”