Pamesa's 'D' halts Estudiantes!
With a defense that shut down the lane all night long, Pamesa took a strong upper hand in the ULEB Cup semifinals on Tuesday by handing Adecco Estudiantes a 68-55 defeat in Valencia. A 12-0 third-quarter run sparked by Jose Antonio Paraiso, who led the winners with 16 points off the bench, proved enough to the opener of the two-game series. But it was Pamesa's defense that allowed it to survive 3-for-17 three-point shooting (18%) to win by a healthy margin. By allowing just 19 points in the second and third quarters, Pamesa held Estudiantes to 32 points fewer than its average of 87.5 points in the previous 14 ULEB Cup games. Dejan Tomasevic was the pilar of Pamesa's inside superiority, with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. He also helped limit Estudiantes big men Felipe Reyes and Adam Keefe to 12 points and 7 rebounds combined. Corey Brewer led the visitors with 12 points and Carlos Jimenez added 11. The decisive return leg will be in Madrid next week.
Pamesa started the game as promised, going inside to Tomasevic and Oberto to get the first 8 points for the home teams. But in the middle of their scoring, Estudiantes found its own trend, from behind arc. Brewer hit the first three-pointer and Jimenez copied him. When Hernan Jasen drove for a layup, got fouled and converted the free throw, Estudiantes had taken a sudden 8-11 lead. Reyes added his first basket and Jimenez his second triple to make it an 0-8 run to an 8-16 Estudiantes lead halfway through the quarter. Federico Kammerichs ended the Pamesa scoring drought and Rodilla followed with the home team's first shot from downtown, cutting the deficit to 13-16. Brewer answered the same way, however, threatening another Estudiantes breakaway at 13-19. But Paraiso had other ideas. While Pamesa's defense and rebounders locked down the visitors from Madrid, Paraiso went to the hoop for two layups sandwiched around a pair of free throws. His personal 6-0 run was followed by a scoreless final minute, and as such, the teams reached the end of 10 minutes as they had started, equal, with 19-19 on the board.
Paraiso threatened to take the game in his hands when he opened the second quarter with a layup and a free throw, extending his run to 9-0. It was the only scoring for 3 minutes as Pamesa went ahead 22-19. But Estudiantes went back to what worked, and it took Nikola Loncar just one shot from the arc to tie it 22-22 and break the spell of Paraiso. But now, neither defense was going to let anyone score much. The middle of the quarter saw Tomasevic put his team ahead, 25-22, but Jasen rose up for another Estudiantes triple, and another tie, before Loncar made a layup for a new 25-27 lead. After a Pamesa team timeout, Pedro Robles promptly landed the home team in the lead, 28-27, with a triple. But Jasen showed he can take it to the big boys, too, by dunking to put Estudiantes back in front. A layup by Victor Luengo layup finished the half with Pamesa hanging on to a 30-29.
The back-and-forth continued after halftime with another lead change as Brewer landed a jumper to put Estudiantes ahead 30-31. The lead would change twice again before a 34-34 tie, but the defensive trend of the second quarter was about to continue for one team, and it wasn't Estudiantes. Paraiso would keep the Pamesa offense going with a three-pointer good for a 37-34. It was the start of a decisive 12-0 run that would put the game fully in Pamesa's hands. Before it was over, Paraiso added another basket, Robles 4 consecutive points and Tomasevic a layup as the lead ballooned to 46-34. Loncar ended the Estudiantes slide with a free throw and Adam Keefe's jumper lowered the deficit to 9 points, 46-37, but newcomer Brian Cardinal got his first points on a layup before Robles finished the quarter with a jumper, tying the highest lead of the game, 50-38.
Jimenez raised hopes of an Estudiantes comeback with a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter, but Pamesa was having none of it. Paraiso's free throws triggered a 10-1 response that took Pamesa to its biggest lead on a Tomasevic layup that made it 60-42 after 35 minutes. At that, its worst moment, Estudiantes showed all its pride, mounting an 0-9 run in just 60 seconds on dunks by Reyes and Brewer around a three-pointer by German Gabriel. Oberto and Reyes now exchanged layups, but time was wasting for Estudiantes. After a timeout, Kammerichs finished off the victory with a drive to the basket and a pair of free throws. Robles added an extra final basket, no doubt thinking that the massive crowd expected next week in Madrid was surely worth getting an extra 2 points of insurance against.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003