AEK overpowered Flamengo and were crowned champions
RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) – Greece’s AEK didn’t’ show any creases or weaknesses. To the contrary, they portrayed, above all, an unbreakable defense in their victory against Brazil’s Flamengo, 86-70. They were crowned champions of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup that took place until this Sunday at Arena Carioca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Point guard Jordan Theodore, with 22 units and five assists, led AEK's offense, who portrayed their depth once again, featuring five players that established a double-digit difference in points. Experienced Lithuanian player Jonas Maciulis raised the trophy for the second time (the first time was in 2015 with Real Madrid) after contributing 17 points, while substitutes Delroy James (12), Dusan Sakota (11) and Giannoulis Larentzakis (10), were also outstanding.
As for Flamengo, they couldn’t repeat their achievement from 2014, and center Anderson Varejão managed a 21-point and 11-rebound double-double, while Marquinhos contributed 11.
The point of no return: With a 9-0 streak in the first three minutes of the third quarter, Flamengo reappeared in the game, closing in 47-42 with a three-pointer by Marquinhos. However, Maciulis responded with another score from the three-point area, and then a steal by James and two points by Larentzakis established another considerable distance of 10 (54-44). In the last quarter, Flamengo faced two consecutive losses in their first possessions and Larentzakis used this to score five points that put the scoreboard 69-55 in favor of the European side, with 8:44 minutes left on the clock. The game was clear-cut when Theodore swooshed in a three-pointer and then a two-pointer with 4:00 minutes left, leaving the scoreboard 77-59. In the next offense, the point guard received a foul by Jhonathan Dos Santos to which Sakota responded with two free throws; and in the restart, after an inbound pass, Lorentzakis whipped up another three-point jump shot that left Flamengo behind and his team in the advantage, 82-59, with 3:31 minutes in the clock.
The hero of the game: Theodore was the most outstanding with his attack and in taking decisions to commandeer his team. The point guard not only was the best of the game but was also named MVP. In the Semi-Finals game against San Lorenzo he scored 12 points, which gave him a 17.0-point average per encounter in the Cup.
The numbers don't lie: AEK's defense was flawless and that was the team's key to success. The Champions League champions made 11 steals and forced Flamengo to lose the ball 20 times, which they turned into 33 points to their favor. They also achieved 22 fast break points and 35 bench points.
Recap: The men led by Italian coach Luca Banchi won the FIBA Intercontinental Cup for the first time in their history and became the third Greek team in raising the trophy, alongside Panathinaikos (1996) and Olympiacos (2013).