Skipper had to struggle all night before finally outlasting Krka in Bologna on Thursday night, picking up a 97-86 home win in Group B. Skipper was led by Hanno Mottola's 17 points, while Matjaz Smodis and Milos Vujanic scored 13 apiece. In total, Skipper had 6 players reach double figures. Krka was led by Slavko Duscak, who scored a game-high 26 points, including 5 of 7 three-pointers. Rick Rickert and Marko Antonijevic scored 10 each for the visitors. Skipper held an advantage nearly all the way through the game after falling behind 0-8 in the opening minutes. However, Krka resisted a knockout punch and despite being behind 56-41 at halftime came within just 9 points in the closing minutes. Ultimately, Skipper closed the deal thanks to timely baskets by Matjaz Smodis and Mottola and turnovers by Krka.
Krka got off to a great start, going ahead 0-8 on 2 triples and then a lay-in by Rick Rickert. Milos Vujanic gets Skipper into the game, striping Antonijevic at half court and lays it in for Skipper's first points, 2-8. From there Hanno Mottola went to work in the low post scoring 6 points in the next several minutes, cutting the Krka lead to 8-13. Krka couldn't hold back Skipper much longer, as a triple by Vujanic plus a runner in the lane by guard Marco Belinelli tied the game at 13-13. Krka wasn't going away that easily, however and immediately responded with a 3. Skipper went on to outscore their guests 10-4 over the remaining 4 minutes of the quarter behind two Carlos Delfino triples. At the end of quarter one, Skipper held a slight edge at 23-20
Skipper began the second quarter where it left off in the first. Gianluca Basile's triple helped Skipper built a double-digit advantage. After falling behind by 10, Krka's Slavko Duscak reversed the trend with a basket and then a feed to Mario Bosnjak, which cut Skipper's lead down to 6 points with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter. Krka continued its hot shooting from outside but Skipper finally warmed up from three-point range itself. Marko Antonijevic's triple pulled Krka to within 4 points, 36-32, but Gianmarco Pozzecco whose entrance into the game gave Skipper a spark, responded with a triple of his own. Slavko Duscak then scored 5 points to keep his team close, but a flurry of Skipper baskets, including two consecutive by Milos Vujanic kept Skipper safely ahead. Krka's only answer was a triple by point guard Jason Gardiner form the corner, but in quarter's last three minutes Skipper subs Erazem Lorbek and Patricio Prato combined for 8 points, widening Krka's deficit at the half to 15 points, 56-41.
With Sani Becirovic guiding the offense, Krka cut down Skipper's lead with a strong third quarter. As Becirovic led the offense for the first time, Krka opened the quarter outscoring Skipper 4-14 over first four minutes. Skipper seemed to have lost their edge over the first five minutes of the quarter, as Matjaz Smodis picked up an intentional foul that would have allowed Krka to cut the lead to 6 points. Krka's Antonijevic missed both freethrows, however, and then Becirovic turned the ball over, effectively blowing a big chance to cut Skipper's lead even closer. Skipper's center Tomas Van Den Spiegel asserted himself on the low post, following a Smodis three-point play with one of his own and then picking up fouls on the following two trips down the floor. Afte Van Den Spiegel made 3 of 4 free throws Skipper held a 71-57 lead. Slavko Duscak responded with a four-point play from the corner and then Becirovic found Boris Gnjidic in the corner for a jumper and Krka ended the quarter within striking range at 73-64.
Both teams struggled to find the basket over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, trading missed shots until Skipper put together three straight of baskets that pushed their lead to 81-68. Matjaz Smodis' had two consecutive baskets during the mini-break by Skipper. Becirovic made a crowd-pleasing drive and basket, but his 2 points were cancelled out by Hanno Mottola's score immediately afterwards in the low post. Krka's player of the game, Slavko Duscak, responded one last time with another 3 followed by a fast break basket that cut Skipper's lead to double digits, 85-76. Krka was unable to do any better than to trade baskets the rest of the way as their full-court press failed to stop further cut the deficit. Krka made its final push with a basket from Rickert and then two free throws by Gnjidic, which cut the lead back down to 9 points. Ultimately time ran out on Krka as Skipper kept its cool under the full-court pressure proceeding to take the game without needing last minute heroics.
Thursday, November 6, 2003