FMP Zeleznik won 73-91 at Trieste
FMP Zelznik confirmed its status as the top team from the ULEB Cup regular season when it opened up the second round with a huge 73-91 road win Tuesday at Generali Group Trieste in Italy in a game that was over already in the third period. The MVP of the night and main contributor for the winners was power forward Ognjen Askrabic, who bagged 31 points. He got help from Goran Nikolic with 20 more points, Reggie Freeamn with 17 and Sasa Bratic with 10. For Generali Group, Sinisa Kelecevic was the scoring leader with 19 points, while Ismaila Sy added 13 and Ivica Maric 10. Trieste was forced to play without its main scorers, Nate Erdmann adn Terrence Roberson, after they were sidelined at the last minute with injuries.
Coming off an unlucky previous day, when Roberson and Erdmann both were sidelined due to last-minute injures did not help Trieste's spirits. The game started with Maric on fire with 5 straight points for a 5-2 lead. After Zeleznik was back to 7-6, Trieste made another short run to earn a 15-6 lead with 2 consecutive triples by Roberto Casoli and Maric. Zeleznik took a timeout to discuss things, and then went back on the court tougher. Freeman buried a three that was followed by free throws from Bojan Popovic that pulled the guests back to within 18-13. Both teams answered with three-pointers and layups until a late foul by Daniele Cavaliero resulted in a pair of Popovic foul shots with 4 seconds to go that allowed Zeleznik to cut the deficit to 25-22 after 10 minutes.
Nikolic started the second period scoring immediately, and against the zone defense proposed by Trieste, Sasa Bratic scored also, to give Zeleznik its first advanatge in the game, 25-26. Askrabic improved the guests' edge to 27-32 and then game became hot. The two team were close and the 19 points already scored by an unstoppable Askrabic gave to the guests a larger 36-43 advantage. The guest increased their lead till the 41-50 on a deadly fastbreak by Freeman, but Trieste was in the game as Kelecevic and Sy reduced the deficit to the final 47-53 at the half.
In the third quarter, the defense of Yugoslavs was extended to the whole court and Trieste suffered against this big pressure. Minute by minute, the hosts lost the way to the basket while Zeleznik with the fourth long-distance basket of Askrabic enlarged its lead to 54-70. The three of Ivan Zoroski at the buzzer definitely iced the game, 56-76, after 30 minutes. The last period was simply an agony for Trieste and a time for the to preserve their big advantage and feel themselves that much closer to the quarterfinals while going home to Belgrade for the second game next week.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003