When Promitheas Patras welcomed Nanterre 92 at Dimitris Tofalos Arena on Wednesday, few expected such a great display of effectiveness and pretty basketball in the first half - alley-oop dunks, three-pointers, fastbreak points and a lot of highlights. When the dust settled, a put-back layup by Charis Giannopoulos gave Promitheas a 46-44 lead.
The hosts made 12 of 18 two-point shots (66.6%) in the first half and Nanterre did even better: 14 of 20 (70%). Isiah Cordinier and Alpha Kaba combined for 32 points on 11-of-12 two-point shooting, 11 rebounds and a PIR of 47. It was fun, yes, but that is not how Promitheas takes pride in winning games.
"Aggressive defense in the second half made the difference and allowed us to win the game," Coach Makis Giatras said after the game. "We improved our game in defense in the second half, controlled the rebounds and stopped Kaba, who had 18 points [in the first half]."
Danny Agbelese set the defensive tone right after the break with a couple of blocked shots. He drew a couple of fouls from Kaba, one on each end of the floor, to send him to the bench for the remainder of the third quarter. Promitheas fed off Agbelese's defensive energy and kept playing aggressively until the end of the game.
Nanterre only scored 3 two-point shots in the second half, in which it scored 28 points. It was limited to 3-of-17 two-point shooting (17.7%) after the break. Cordinier and Kaba finished the game combining for 36 points on 12-of-15 two-point shooting, 16 rebounds and a PIR of 49. However, they had only 4 points, 5 rebounds and a PIR of 2 after the break.
As always happens in basketball, defense leads to offense. Giannopoulos set new EuroCup career-highs in points (21) and PIR (23). He had 14 of those 21 points after the break. Ian Miller had 4 points before the break and finished the game with 19.
"My shots, my selection and everything is going to come," Miller said after the game. "My coaches and my teammates believe in me, so it makes it easier for me to be patient and wait for my team to take over the game."
Promitheas finished the game with 28 assists and just 6 turnovers. That's 4.7 assists per turnover, the highest ratio by any team in the 2020-21 EuroCup. Vangelis Mantzaris had a lot to do with it. He had 11 assists, tying a club record that previously belonged to Langston Hall, who also had 11 against ratiopharm Ulm on October 16, 2019. Mantzaris only had 1 turnover. Nikola Radicevic had 7 assists and 1 turnover. It is no surprise that Promitheas is 2-0 since those players arrived.
Those 28 assists almost tied a club record, too. Promitheas had 29 against EWE Baskets Oldenburg on March 3, 2020. The bottom line is that Mantzaris and Radicevic combined for 18 assists and just 2 turnovers. Since they arrived, Miller and Giannopoulos have been better on offense, Promitheas's frontcourt remains solid, and the team is winning. With a lot of room for improvement in terms of adjustment and rhythm, it seems that the best is yet to come.