Union Olimpija lived to fight another day in the Group B race for the Top 16 as it downed visiting Adecco Asvel 79-67 on Thursday. Olimpija raised its record to 5-7, and though it is still in seventh place in Group B, is only a victory behind three teams tied for fourth place: AEK, Zalgiris and Scavolini. A 23-12 second quarter run gave Olimpija leads that lasted until the final buzzer. A pair of 40-minute men - Vladimer Boisa with 20 points and Sasa Ozbolt with 18 - led the winners, who also got 18 points from Marijan Mance. Olimpija's defense did the rest, limiting Asvel to just two double-figure scorers, Huseyin Besok with 11 points and Terrell Lyday with 10.
The game started unusually for fans used to seeing defense first in Tivoli Arena. In the first 4 minutes, Mance lit up the scoreboard with 8 points himself, but Olimpija had only a 10-9 lead to show for it as Makan Dioumassi started Asvel off with a triple and Besok added 2 baskets. The offensive rhythm slowed then, but Asvel got the better of its opportunities as Harold Mrazek, Lyday and Stephane Pelle combined on a 2-8 run for a 14-17 lead by the guests. Asvel's height was noticeable as most of its points came under the rims, while Olimpija shot from afar, and not well. With the hosts missing all 5 of their three-point attempts in the quarter, Asvel hung onto an 18-19 advantage after 10 minutes.
Ozbolt's 5 points and a basket by Dragisa Drobnjak gave Olimpija a 9-2 run to start the second quarter with its first sizable lead, 27-21. Asvel tried a timeout, but it only served to get the guests within 30-26 on shots by Tomislav Ruzic and Lyday. Then, Bazdaric entered and hit his first shot, a triple. Although Asvel dominated the boards, they couldn't slow Ozbolt and Vladimer Boisa, who boosted Olimpija's lead to 38-29 late in the quarter. When Bazdaric hit his second triple, Olimpija was able to head into the break holding a double-digit advantage, 41-31.
While its defense held Olimpija to a single basket in the first 5 minutes after halftime, Asvel pulled as close as 43-40 after back-to-back three-pointers landed by Danny Miller and Mrazek. After Mance and Ozbolt steadied the hosts with a couple baskets, Asvel then took a timeout, but Olimpija's defense kept the guests down long enough to reestablish a double-digit lead, 50-40 on a jumper by Boisa. Mrazek popped another triple for the guests, but Olimpija retained a commanding 54-45 advantage after a low-scoring third quarter.
The 3,000 fans in Tivoli Arena breathed easier as Mance blasted a pair of three-pointers in success early in the final quarter, giving Olimpija a 63-50 lead and signalling the beginning of the end for Asvel. Boisa kept up the charge with a triple of his own and Ozbolt braved the big Asvel defenders to make it 68-52. To its credit, considering it has no Top 16 options, Asvel did not give up. A 2-10 run brought the guests within 70-62 with 3 minutes remaining and 73-66 in the last one. Ozbolt ended the last threat with a three-point play and Olimpija turned its attention to the next game in the Top 16 race.
Thursday, January 27, 2005