Two-time ULEB Cup semifinalist Hemofarm took an early ticket for another chance by beating AEK 93-67 at home in Vrsac, Serbia on Tuesday to advance to the elimination rounds from Group A. Hemofarm raised its record to 5-3, while AEK dropped to 2-5 and virtual elimination. The teams weren't that far apart for the first 25 minutes, after which Hemfarm led by just 49-47. But from that point forward, hot shooting sent the hosts to leads as high as 27 points while they outscored AEK 44-20 to win going away. Nebojsa Joksimovic was the big gun for Hemofarm with 23 points and 4 of 11 three-pointers by the winners. Predrag Suput and Milenko Topic added 15 points each and paced Hemofarm's 69.6% two-point shooting. AEK got 15 points from Christos Tapoutos and 10 each from Prodromos Nikolaidis, Niolaos Vetoulas and Jasmin Perkovic. AEK must win all its games and hope another teams loses the two it has left for any chance at all of survival.
Hemofarm started with pick-and-roll combinations on assists from Joksimovic. AEK answered with bombs from downtown by Sotiros Nikolaidis and Vetoulas until the score was tied 10-10 after 5 minutes. Suput scored 6 points until then minutes for Hemofarm, while Nikolaidis had 7 for AEK. Finally, Joksimovic scored his first triple and an additional free throw but AEK cut the lead to 18-17 with Brent Scott's layup. Suput then scored on the buzzer to give Hemofarm a 20-17 edge after 10 minutes. Scott remained an enigma to Hemofarm in the second quarter, and when Ioannis Gagaloudis scored a seven-meter triple, AEK had a lead at 24-26. Prodromos Nikolaidis scored one more time from behind the arc, concluding a 2-9 AEK run that gave the guests a 26-31 advantage. Joksimovic took the responsibility in that moment and scored 6 of his 14 points to tie the score 35-35 in the last minute of first period. Tapoutos gave AEK the advantage back, but Joksimovic dropped a three-pointer on the buzzer as Hemofarm led again 38-37 at the end of the first half.
Joksimovic continued to terrorize AEK's defense after the break. In the opening minutes, he scored another triple that boosted Hemofarm ahead by double digits, 49-39, after an 11-2 start. AEK switched to zone and answered with 0-9 run in which Jasmin Perkovic contributed 4 points to make it 49-47. Joksimovic finaly netted a layup, to which Topic and Miroslav Borison added triples to give Hemofarm a new double-digit advantage, 57-47. Topic and Perkovic traded baskets as Joksimovic again scored a triple on the buzzer and the hosts led 62-51 after 30 minutes. Hemofarm opened final period with 7-0 run when teenager Borisov scored from downtown and from the foul line, ending much of the suspense. When Topic and Miljan Rakic scored, too, Hemofarm was up by 20 points, 73-53, with 7 minutes left. Rakic and Topic soon boosted the gap to 25 points. Stefan Markovic and Rakic completed 16-3 Hemofarm run that made it 85-58. Hemofarm fans, used to going far in the competition, were on their feet in the final minutes of the game, toasting another trip to the elimination rounds.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006