Spirited Maroussi Stun Spartak

20 November 2007

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.

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