Its dream of reaching the Top 16 out of Group C got a little closer when Idea Slask stopped Alba Berlin 92-80 at home in Wroclaw, Poland, on Thursday night. Slask's record rose to 5-4, good for at least a fourth-place tie with Tau Ceramica. Alba fell to 2-7 and will need a winning streak now to save any hope of advancement. Euroleague scoring leader Lynn Greer was again the man for Slask, scoring 26 points and dishing 9 assists. Tanel Tein had his best Euroleague game yet with 21 points on 6 of 6 two-pointers, while Adam Wojcik had 19 points, including 3 of 3 three-pointers. Ryan Randle scored 8 of his 13 points for the winners in a decisive 10-2 run to open the final quarter. DeJuan Collins led Alba with 28 points, including 9 of 9 free throws. John Best added 20 points and Vladimir Petrovic 12 for the guests.
Both teams were fluid and up-tempo on offense in the first quarter. Greer scored 4 points in an 8-2 opening run, but Alba bit back as Best hit a three-pointer and Collins consecutive layups for a 10-9 scoreboard. Greer landed a triple, Dominik Tomczyk a mid-range jumper and Tein a layup to extend Slask's lead to 17-11. But Alba kept stroking in this back-and-forth battle with a 3-8 run in which Best drilled another three while Collins added a three-point play. Greer had the final word in the quarter, scoring 4 points in the final 2 minutes to give Slask a four-point lead, 23-19, at the end of 10 minutes.
Alba used a 0-7 run early in the second quarter highlighted by a Best three-point play to get back the lead at 25-27. It didn't last long. Slask fired back with a Wojcik triple from up and switched to a 2-3 defense. Alba, after a timeout, committed 3 turnovers while Randle, Tein and Greer extended Slask's run. Wojcik ended it at 15-0 with a triple that was good for a 40-27 local lead. Alba found some fresh air once Collins made 2 from the line, starting a 2-11 run in which Stefano Garris broke his two-month jinx by drilling a three-pointer and Petrovic added 4 more points. Tein came to the rescue for Slask then, scoring 5 consecutive points to push the hosts' lead to 49-40 at halftime.
After the break, an early basket by Greer and a layup by Maciej Zielinski made everyone think Slask would have an easy finish. But Alba's frontcourt had another idea in mind. Best made back-to-back baskets while Jovo Stanojevic added a three-point play which made it a six-point game, 55-49. Slask struggled offensively but managed to keep its lead due to 4 free throws by Wojcik. Meanwhile, Best remained unstoppable, drilling another three-pointer plus a turnaround jumper, while feeding Chuckie Evans for a triple that cut the deficit to 61-58 after 27 minutes. Alba even made it a two-point game, 66-64, before another triple by Wojcik and a layup by Greer at the buzzer extended Slask's lead to 71-65 after 30 minutes.
Randle stepped up for Slask in the fourth quarter, providing intensity on defense while scoring 8 points in a 10-2 opening run. Just before he fouled out, Randle's two-handed slam finished the run with Slask's lead back to double-digits, 81-67, with 6 minutes to play. Alba cut 5 points off the deficit, but Tein's second three-pointer and another Wojcik jumper restored a 12-point lead, 86-74, with 2 minutes to go. The outcome was clear, and Slask fans had time to celebrate by giving the hosts a standing ovation. Tein made a spectacular double-pump reverse layup off the baseline to give the crowd something in return, not to mention hope to keep playing past the regular season.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Andrzej Jaworski, Wroclaw