Tau Ceramica jockeyed into position to try to make a late move in the Group C standings when it rallied to beat Pamesa Valencia 73-67 at home in Vitoria, Spain on Wednesday. The victory lifted Tau to 8-5, forcing a third-place tie with Pamesa, also 8-5, while Benetton Treviso, which won simultaneously, took over second place. Should Tau and Pamesa remain tied after one more game, however, Pamesa would win the head-to-head tiebreaker for having won by 13 points in their first game. Tau was led on Wednesday by Arvydas Macijauskas, who came off the bench to score 22 points. Luis Scola added 16 points, including a key jumper in the final minute, Andres Nocioni 14 points and Jose Manuel Calderon 12. Pamesa, which was able to lead in the last quarter, got 14 points each from Antoine Rigaudeau, Alejandro Montecchia and Fabricio Oberto, but 18 turnovers hurt the visitors.
Tau coach Dusko Ivanovic surprised everyone by not including the Euroleague's second-best scorer, Macijauskas, in the starting lineup. Sergi Vidal, his substitute, opened fire with a layup just after the tipoff, but neither Tau nor Pamesa managed to get easy points the minutes that came after that. The result was a balanced score midway through the first period, with both squads tied at 12-12 after a triple by Rigaudeau. Although the hosts tried to escape after a jumper by Nocioni at 20-14, Pamesa kept fighting to reach the last minute trailing only by a point. The main problem for the visitors were fouls, two early ones each to Montecchia and Dejan Tomasevic, which brought Demos Dikoudis and Marko Popovic off the bench to hold the line, although Tau still held a 22-19 lead after 10 minutes.
The second quarter brought more intensity, but neither team was able to improve its shooting. Tau scored only one basket in the first 4 minutes, while Pamesa got only 4 points in the same span. A turnaround jumper by Oberto gave the visitors the lead, but Macijauskas reacted quickly and nailed his first three-pointer of the night. This seemed to wake him, as he hit 2 free throws and drew a flagrant foul on Victor Luengo to boost Tau again. Nocioni replaced Macijauskas as the hosts' leader in the following minutes, scoring a left-handed hook and a triple to give Tau its biggest margin at 36-28 with 3 minutes until the half. The return of Montecchia helped Pamesa reduce the gap taking advantage of third fouls by Macijauskas and Kornel David. A free throw by the Macijauskas closed the first half with a 38-34 score on the board.
The third quarter started with a shooting contest. First it was Rigaudeau, with a corner three-pointer. Then Montecchia nailed another one to give Pamesa the lead again, but Macijauskas answered in the following play from downtown, too.Although the visitors managed to open a small margin at 41-44 soon after the intermission, 5 points in a row by Scola and Nocioni were enough to put the lead in Tau's hands once again after 25 minutes. Both teams exchanged baskets as the differences remained until the end of the period, and only a couple of free throws by Scola widened the gap a little bit at 58-53.
It was clear that Pamesa was going to step up in the last period, and that happened when they begun feeding Oberto and Tomasevic on every play. Teenage center Tiago Splitter took the floor and helped stop them. Nevertheless, Tau was totally blind on offense due to Pamesa hard defense and a bad shooting day by Pablo Prigioni. A layup by Federico Kammerichs gave a three-point lead, 60-63, to Pamesa midway through the last quarter. But when Jose Manuel Calderon returned to court, the game went upside down. His three-point play and 4 points in a row by Macijauskas, including a jumper while falling to the hardwood, forced a Pamesa timeout with 1 minute to go and the score 69-64. But the show didn't stop there. Montecchia nailed a monster three on the following play. Macijauskas tried to answer but Tomasevic blocked his jumper and Scola, with just 1 second remaining on the posession clock, hit an amazing two-pointer that killed the hopes of the guests at 71-67 and few seconds to play.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Natxo Mendaza, Vitoria