Partizan ICN of Belgrade has started its Group D campaign with a victory. Thanks to some timely three-point shooting, the Belgrade team defeated the Telindus Oostende of Belgium 86-77 on Wednesday. Led by Milos Vujanic (17 points), Jovo Stanojevic (17) and Vlado Scepanovic (16), Partizan was lethal from the background, hitting 14 of 24 three-point attempts. Telindus played pretty good in the first half but later, their best player, Ralph Biggs (21 points), was stopped by Predrag Materic. Virginijus Praskevicius (16) worked hard together with Peter Van Paassen (11) but the team had no idea of how to stop Partizan shooters.
The beginning of the game was frantic and it was obvious that both teams were afraid of the magic of the first Euroleague game. Partizan coach, Dusan Vujosevic, suprised a crowd of 5,105 in the Pionir Hall with the 18-year-old Predrag Krstic in the starting five. His duty was to stop the Praskevicius. The absence of Veselin Petrovic, injured, was the reason of this change. Oostende found its best player tonight in Biggs, who was unstoppable in the first quarter. Vlado Scepanovic hit 3-of-5 three-pointers to tie the score after the first 10 minutes. In the second quarter, Vujosevic took out from his hat (or better said, the bench) the anonymous Predrag Materic, who played an excellent defense on Biggs and it became the main reason for the Partizan lead at the halftime.
After 20 weird minutes without any fast breaks or offense rebounds, the audience expected a tied match until the end, but Belgrade players started third period much more relaxed and organized. After 5 minutes, the scoreboard showed 61-51 and the first traces of victory appeared. Biggs and Praskevicius were neutralized and shooter Teo Cizmic seemed far away from his best (only 5 points, all of them in the first period). The Belgian head coach, Aaron McCarthy, tried with two-on-two play. But Materic played again a great defense on Elliott and Biggs ended being alone on offense.
Partizan centers Stanojevic and Ostojic blocked all the ways to their basket and 8 minutes before the end of the game there was a 17-point lead (78:61). The opener in Belgrade was over and the host defeated the team from Oostende and its own fear of the starting game itself. The audience left the arena satisfied, but only because of the final result.
Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Aleksandar Ostojic, Belgrade