Partizan, which outlasted Maroussi 79-76
Partizan stepped closer to reaching the Quarterfinal Playoffs and even winning Group E by edging Maroussi BC 79-76 in front of a soldout Pionir Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday night. Partizan improved to 3-1 and now leads Group E along with FC Barcelona, with Maroussi right behind at 2-2. Partizan will reach the Quarterfinal Playoffs for the third consecutive seasons if it beats already eliminated Panathinaikos next week and Maroussi loses in Barcelona. Maroussi, however, has the tie-break advantage if both teams tie at this end of this phase due to its 8-point win at home. Bo McCalebb paced the winners with 20 points. Lawrence Roberts added 14 and 9 rebounds while Aleks Maric had 11 points for Partizan. Michalis Pelekanos led Maroussi with 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting. Kostas Kaimakoglou added 14, Jamon Lucas and Billy Keys each had 11 while Jared Homan got 10 for the guests. Maroussi led for the best part of the game and kept a 40-45 edge at halftime. A three-pointer by Jan Vesely gave Partizan its first lead of the night, 54-52, late in the third quarter. It all came down to the final minute, as free throws by Keys got Maroussi within 75-74. Aleksandar Rasic and Roberts combined for 4 free throws in the final 13.8 seconds and Keys missed a critical shot from downtown down the stretch.
Lucas got Maroussi going with a stop-and-pop jumper, as Partizan opted to use twin point guards - Petar Bozic and McCalebb - in its starting lineup. Keys soon added a driving layup that Slavko Vranes matched with a dunk. Pelekanos followed free throws with a corner three-pointer to keep Maroussi ahead, 5-9. McCalebb hit free throws and Vesely dunked it to tie it at 9-9. Partizan had adjusted its man-to-man defense, not allowing open shots. Keys took over with a five-meter jumper that Roberts matched with free throws, as Maric stepped on the court for the first time in this year's Top 16. Kaimakoglou buried a big triple and even when Dusan Kecman immediately answered from downtown, he nailed another one from beyond the arc for a 14-17 Maroussi edge. Homan hit free throws, as Partizan tried to open the court to give Maric space in the low post. He made free throws and soon added a jump hook to bring the hosts within 18-19. Homan silenced the crowd with a turnaround jumper but Bozic beat the shot clock with a rainbow three-pointer. Pelekanos beat the buzzer with a corner triple that allowed Maroussi to restore a 21-24 lead at the end of an exciting first quarter.
Maroussi kept trying to open the court with Kaimakoglou at power forward, as the guests tried to slow down the game tempo. Pelekanos fired in his third three-pointer to boost his team's lead to 21-27. Partizan had been scoreless for two minutes until Roberts stepped up with an uncontested layup. Keys downed a five-meter jumper off a screen that Roberts matched with a baseline shot. Kaimakoglou answered from downtown to make it a seven-point gane, 25-32. McCalebb and Dimitrios Mavroeidis traded layups and free throws by Roberts kept Partizan within 29-34. Partizan improved its defense with Bozic and Vranes back on court but Maroussi kept dominating the game with outstanding ball circulation. Stevan Nadjfeji joined the three-point shootout but a reverse layup by Kecman and big basket by McCalebb made Maroussi call timeout at 33-37. The guests could not find the way to the basket and could not get Mavroeidis involved in the low post. McCalebb kept pacing Partizan with an off-balance layup that Mavroeidis matched with an easy basket in the other end. Lucas provided a highlight with a big triple that Rasic erased in the other end. A put-back layup by Maric and free throws by Lucas fixed the halftime score at 40-45.
Maric scored down low immediately after the break, as Maroussi tried its most physical lineup with Lucas, Keys and Pelekanos together on court. McCalebb shined with a driving layup but Homan rescued Maroussi with a mid-range jumper. The guests kept missing open shots, however, and a corner triple by Kecman tied it at 47-47. Homan kept pacing Maroussi with free throws but McCalebb copied him in the other end. Maroussi kept trying to slow down the game tempo but it didn't find open shots now, so it called timeout to adjust its offense and improve its ball circulation. Partizan was all over the place in defense, diving for loose balls and full of intensity. Kaimakoglou scored down low but McCalebb stayed on fire with a lighting quick driving layup. A three-pointer by Vesely set the crowd on fire and completed Partizan's comeback, 54-52. Maroussi kept trying to use long possessions without finding good shots. Meanwhile, Rasic nailed a six-meter jumper for a 56-53 score. Keys tied the game with free throws but a backdoor layup by Vesely put the hosts back ahead, 58-56, after 30 minutes.
McCalebb dunked it off a midcourt steal early in the fourth quarter but Pelekanos answered twice from downtown to make Maroussi regain the lead, 60-62. Keys fed Kaimakoglou for a layup that made Partizan call timeout at 60-64. Maric stepped up with a layup-plus-foul but Mavroeidis scored in the low lost for a 63-66 Maroussi lead with 6 minutes left. McCalebb and Vesely did not miss from the foul line but a four-meter jumper by Homan provided another lead change, 67-68. Vranes took over with a dunk and Roberts added a free throw for a two-point Partizan lead, 70-68, with under 4 minutes to go. An incredible steal by McCalebb allowed Roberts to bury a critical three-pointer that sent the crowd to their feet, 73-68. It was do-or-die time for Maroussi and the guests improved their defense right when it mattered. Lucas tried to change things with a layup in transition and soon added free throws for a 74-72 deficit with 1:18 left. Maric committed a turnover but Pelekanos missed from downtown. Maroussi fouled on McCalebb, who split free throws with 35.5 seconds to go. Keys brought Maroussi within 75-74 and Rasic was next to the line with 13.8 seconds left. He did not miss and Keys missed from downtown in the other end. Roberts sealed the outcome with free throws as a final layup by Pelekanos was too little, too late for the guests.
Thursday, February 25, 2010