AEK survive another drama, book a Final rendezvous with AS Monaco at OAKA
ATHENS (Basketball Champions League) - AEK join AS Monaco in the Final of the Basketball Champions League, after celebrating a 77-75 win over UCAM Murcia in the Semi-Final in OAKA.
Turning point: It was a nail-biter all the way, but AEK held on as Delroy James made a free throw with 5.3 left to play. UCAM Murcia grabbed the rebound after James missed his second shot, Kevin Tumba could not find an open man, gave the ball to Sadiel Rojas, who ran into James. The collision happened in UCAM Murcia's half, too far for Rojas to attempt a game-winning shot.
Game hero: Anybody from the three-headed monster of AEK. Manny Harris had a huge first quarter, leading AEK's charge with 12 of his 20 points then. Kevin Punter took over in the second quarter, collecting 16 points for the game, and Dusan Sakota was the emotional leader with 15 points, including 5 in a row in a crucial run in Q4.
Stats don't lie: AEK shot 55 percent from the two-point range, 47 percent from the field, whilst UCAM Murcia were held just under 40 percent on their FG's (39.7%). Even with a 44-32 rebounding edge, Murcia's shooting was not enough to get them into the Final.
Game notes: AEK were +15 with Vasilis Xanthopoulos on the floor, and -15 with Mike Green, the starting point guard. AEK shot 19-of-31 from the charity stripe. UCAM Murcia grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, but also committed 15 turnovers. Vitor Benite scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
They said: "It was a pretty hard game for us, it's not easy to come back from down 15 like that, but we had a good effort. We need to keep our heads up high. Sometimes basketball is like that." - Vitor Benite, UCAM Murcia team captain
"We didn't play our best, but we showed a lot of heart, as we came back from -15 in the first half and -9 in the last three minutes." - Ibon Navarro, UCAM Murcia head coach
"Credit those guys, they came into our house ready to play, but we had to protect our court." - Kevin Punter, AEK shooting guard
"We made a couple of turnovers that almost cost us the win, but generally we controlled the game. The way they play is not good for us, they run a lot, run a lot of elevators and screens off ball, it was very difficult for us to play and to adjust. One more big success for us, we are looking forward to the next game, against a team even better than Murcia." - Dragan Sakota, AEK head coach
"Murcia were probably more focused on Mike (Green), or maybe they underestimated (Vasilis Xanthopoulos). But he was great for us, not just tonight, also in some other games, like in Strasbourg. He controls the offense, plays with a lot of energy on the defensive end, he is very important for us." - Dragan Sakota, AEK head coach, talking about Xanthopoulos' +15 in the +/- category, team-high. Xanthopoulos was scoreless, missed his only FG in 17 minutes played, but dished out 7 assists, and hasn't committed a turnover.