Idea Slask Wroclaw kept its hopes for getting to the Top 16 with a somewhat suprising 80-72 home victory over Virtus Bologna in Group C on Wednesday. Idea Slask put on a spectacular third quarter with 6 three-pointers, but great defence in the last 10 minutes secured the win. Andrius Giedraitis and Dominik Tomczyk led the winners with 16 points each while Maciej Zielinski and Sean Colson both had 13. David Andersen with 24 points and German Scarone with 20 were the best scorers of the day, but no other Virtus player reached double figures. Idea unexpectedly won the battle on the boards, 35-25 behind Giedraitis's 8 rebounds from his shooting guard spot. Idea's bench outscored their counterparts 24-2 as Virtus suffered the departure last week of Antoine Rigaudeau and an injury that kept Ruslan Avleev off the floor. The Polish champions now have a 4-7 record and still can aspire to the Top 16, while Virtus dropped to 6-5 and a third-place tie with Real Madrid.
The game started well for Idea. Colson made a three-pointer just like a week ago in his debut against Real Madrid. Also like a week ago, he went on to miss 9 consecutive shots from downtown thereafter. But that didn't keep him from having a very good first quarter, with 8 points and 3 assists. The home team tried to go to center Aleksander Kul, but he was missing and having problems on defense with a much quicker Andersen. The Virtus center scored 6 consecutive points as his team took its first lead of the game 11- 12. Colson then made some easy baskets and Idea took back control of the game to lead 20-16 after 10 minutes.
Virtus came on in the second quarter with good defence and Slask scored just 4 points for almost 6 minutes. Only Andersen from middle distance and Scarone were able to score for Virtus, however, so the the biggest gap for the visitors was 4 points. For Idea, Tomczyk then finished three consecutive possesions and after his 2 shots from the line, the hosts tied it 34-34, but Virtus was able to finish the half ahead 35-38 following Scarone's offensive rebound and buzzer-beating putback.
Virtus continued its run into the third quarter, extending the lead to 35-44. Wroclaw tried to use a zone defense for the first time, but had to stop it very early. Defense wasn't such a huge problem as offense, however. The Polish champs committed some easy turnovers trying to go inside, so decided to try shooting from three-point range. Good decision! The first few belonged to Giedraitis, who made 3 consecutive bombs from downtown. Pawel Wiekiera added 1 and 2 of Colson's tries rimmed in and out of the basket. Idea couldn't take the lead, however, because it couldn't find the way to stop Matjaz Smodis inside and Scarone at the point. Following their 8 consecutive points, including 2 three-pointers, Virtus took the biggest lead of the game, 49-59, in the 29th minute. But then Wiekiera and Tomczyk answered with the next series of spectacular long-distance shots and going into the last 10 minutes, down only 55-59, everything was still possible for Idea.
Virtus clung to its lead, but Idea's three-point show continued. Giedraitis made his fourth in as many attempts to cut the lead to just 60-61. Idea unexpectelly dominated both boards, grabbing 18 rebounds in the second half to just 9 from Virtus. On a jumper by Colson, Idea finally took the lead 64-63, and when Dainius Adomaitis made his only three-pointer of the game on the next possesion, the control of the game shifted to the Polish champions. Virtus, depleted of manpower and probably strength, couldn't find wide open shots like Idea. That showed in the guests' 3-for-17 finish from behind the arc. Slask was making everything. When Kul made just his third basket of the game , the home team was ahead 76-68 and everything was clear. Only 60 seconds were left, and Virtus did not have any guns left to shoot its way back in so short a time.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Andrzej Jaworski, Wroclaw