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PAOK throw down gauntlet to rest of field with beat-down of Neptunas


PAOK delivered a first-half knockout punch against visiting Neptunas Klaipeda on Wednesday evening to bolster their hopes of reaching the Round of 16.

Phillip Alexander Goss Jr poured in 19 of his 29 points before the break and youngsters Antonis Koniaris and Vassilis Charalampopoulos came off the bench to provide plenty of inspiration and dynamic plays as the Greek club rolled to a 91-70 Group B triumph.

By improving to 6-7, PAOK ensured they would go into their Gameday 14 clash with Ventspils (also 6-7) with a chance to progress to the Play-Offs. Ilian Papatheodorou's team won the first meeting against the Latvian side in Greece, 83-76.

The loss for Neptunas has dropped the Lithuanian club to 7-6. The Klaipeda team is still in third place and in the Play-Off positions.

PAOK were in total command against Neptunas and looking unstoppable, especially on offense, by half-time when they led 58-32. They shot a scalding 70.97 percent (22 of 31) from the floor and 7 of 9 (77.78 percent) from 3-point range. While Goss was an excellent 7 of 8 from the floor and 3 of 3 from deep, Charalampopoulos and Koniaris were terrific, too.

Charalampopoulos, the star of so many Greek youth teams the past few years, was 5 of 5 (100 percent) from the floor and had 12 points by half-time. He finished one play with a slam dunk that had showed just how much self-belief the hosts were playing with.

Koniaris was equally terrific, scoring 6 points and dishing out 5 assists before the break.

PAOK poured in just 13 points in the third quarter but put the result beyond doubt with a convincing fourth quarter. After losing by 13 points in the first meeting, PAOK won big on Wednesday to take the potential tie-breaker advantage.

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