The Greek team grabbed a crucial road win to improve to 3-3.
Katsivelis comes alive in the fourth quarter to lead Aris past Buducnost
Only a few people would have believed in an Aris Midea Thessaloniki road victory midway through the third period of its game against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Wednesday night. At that point, the home team ruled 29-13, having exploited the visitors’ woes on offense. Moreover, Aris still trailed by double digits, 51-41, after 25 minutes and entered the last period leading 56-51.
But, Aris showed an incredible poise and faith, relying on a zone defense that collapsed its opponent in the last quarter, giving up just 7 points and holding Buducnost scoreless for 6 minutes.
“We controlled [the game] for 35 minutes. But the last quarter was really bad in our offense, especially,” repented Buducnost head coach Petar Mijovic right after the game. “[We played] without ideas. Their matchup zone defense [made us] play without confidence, and that’s the reason we lost the game.”
Dimitris Katsivelis came to the fore
Once Aris felt comfortable on defense, it began to feel confident on offense. And then, an unsung hero showed up. Before the last period, Dimitris Katsivelis had been a non-factor for Aris, going scoreless on 0-of-4 from the field. But, once he found his moment, he became decisive.
Despite finishing with -1 PIR, Katsivelis’s contribution in the clutch moments was crucial. He scored for the first time with 6 minutes remaining to bring his team within 60-54. He fed Ismael Sanogo soon after and scored again from the free-throw line to reduce the gap to 60-57.
A few moments later, right after Silvio de Sousa made it 60-59, Katsivelis emerged with two contested layups off the dribble that capped the comeback and granted the guests their first lead of the night, 60-63. What’s more, when Buducnost lost its chance to get back in charge in the last minute, Katsivelis sealed the outcome with a free throw with just 2 seconds remaining.
“We had to deal with a very difficult situation,” Ioannis Kastritis admitted in the post-game press conference. “But once again, the guys did a great job. Offensively and defensively, we played smart, focused, we sacrificed our body in every single possession and every 50:50 ball. I’m very proud of them.”