One could be forgiven for thinking that Promitheas Patras simply didn't have the firepower to hang with Umana Reyer Venice on Tuesday night in the "City of Bridges". After all, Promitheas lost to the same team a week before at home and its top performer from that game, Octavius Ellis, is no longer with the team and his presumed replacement would not be in uniform for this game. That thinking would have been sound. But it also doesn't take into account the presence of Loukas Mavrokefalidis.
The 35-year-old center, who began the season playing in Greece's second division, was unstoppable for Promitheas. Mavrokefalidis scored two of the game's first three baskets – including a pair on the offensive glass – to set the tone. He scored 11 points altogether in the first quarter; the entire Reyer team had 12 in that same period.
In the fourth quarter, Reyer cut a 20-point deficit to 9. But with the hosts surging, Mavrokefalidis scored the game's next 7 points to keep his team in total control. In between, he scored, rebounded, drew fouls, and played effective defense.
Mavrokefalidis finished the game with 28 points, 13 rebounds and a performance index rating of 37. All three numbers represent club records.
To be fair, Mavrokefalidis was not the only reason Promitheas won comfortably. Reyer shot an abysmal 1 for 21 on three-pointers. On the other hand, behind Mavrokefalidis's blistering start, the hosts trailed for the entirety of the last three quarters, which led them to at times rush shots from downtown that they might not have otherwise settled for.
Of course, the three-point question is also a return to the norm for both teams from Reyer's 2-point victory in Round 3 in Greece. In that game, Promitheas was 3 for 20 (15%) from downtown, while Reyer was 9 for 23 (39.1%).
Coach Makis Giatras attributed the victory to something else: "We came with some problems in the roster, but this team is used to playing with problems. We gave 100 percent effort. The best thing about my team today was the 100% effort from everybody. Maybe this is the biggest win for the Promitheas organization so far."
Certainly, Giatras is correct, however, Mavrokefalidis had an impact on his team's effort, too. After all, when you see the oldest player on the team hustling for 6 offensive rebounds and drawing 9 fouls, how can anyone else give less than 100%?
Indeed, Mavrokefalidis did it all and proved to be the difference-maker for Promitheas in a big win that put the team back in the hunt for a ticket to the quarterfinals.