Partizan handles Turk Telekom to move into Top 16
Partizan NIS Belgrade qualified for the Top 16 by downing visiting Turk Telekom Ankara 87-72 in a do-or-die game for both teams at a packed Aleksandar Nikolic Hall on Wednesday night. Partizan entered the game in the Serbian capital knowing it needed a 2-point win to go through, but Coach Andrea Trinchieri's men did plenty more than that, winning by enough points to even move into third place in Group C and in the process ending Turk Telekom's 7DAYS EuroCup campaign. Rade Zagorac shined for Partizan with 18 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, while Djordje Gagic muscled his way to 13 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists in the victory. For Turk Telekom, Vladimir Stimac scored 21 points in a return to his hometown, while Kenny Gabriel added 16 points in the losing effort.
Partizan had a dream start, hitting triples on each of the opening three possessions to take a 9-0 lead, but Turk Telekom answered with Stimac scoring from close range and Reggie Redding from long distance. A triple from Gabriel gave Turk Telekom its first lead, 15-16, however, a pair of baskets from Gagic, including a monster dunk, made it 25-21 after 10 minutes. Back-to-back triples from Zagorac helped pushed the lead to 37-25 early in the second quarter. Stimac scored 5 more points for the visitors to snap a 10-0 run, but the hosts took a 43-32 lead into halftime. Marcus Paige opened the second half with a triple that increased the margin to 14 points, but Gabriel answered with back-to-back threes and Gabriel's third shot from downtown cut it to 51-45. Stefan Jankovic sparked Partizan's run of 6 straight points and after Ender Arslan knocked down a triple for Turk Telekom, Gagic inside and Aleksej Nikolic with a transition three made it 64-50 late in the third. At the start of the fourth, T.J. Campbell's three-pointer gave the visitors hope at 66-57, but Zagorac had a runner, Amar Gegic added a triple, and a three-point play from Paige opened a 76-61 advantage. Marinkovic added a three of his own, and Gagic muscled in a three-point play to extend the difference to 84-65 with 3 minutes left, essentially sealing the outcome as the celebrations of the Partizan faithful were already underway.
Despite being a EuroCup rookie who missed three games due to injuries, Rade Zagorac still came up with his best performance when his team needed him most. Zagorac was everywhere, scoring 18 points on 3-for-4 two-point shooting and 2-for-4 behind the arc along with 5 assists and 4 steals.
Partizan made a season-high 65.8% of its shots inside the arc (25 for 38) and tied its season-best with 13 offensive rebounds in this do-or-die game.
Time for sharing
Partizan dished 20 assists in this game marking the third time this season it had 20 or more assists. Five different players – Marcus Paige, Vanja Marinkovic, Rade Zagorac, Djordje Gagic and Aleksej Nikolic – had 3 or more assists.
After Tuesday outcomes in Group B, Partizan knew it would need a 2-point win to qualify and a 4-point win to finish third. Partizan accomplished both, and will now play in Top 16 Group E against AS Monaco, ALBA Berlin and Rytas Vilnius.
End of journey
This marked the end of the journey for Turk Telekom, which did not have tiebreakers against Partizan and Zenit St. Petersburg go its way and finished the season with a 4-6 record.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018