Not just content with just making the Top 16 in the final week of the regular season, Partizan Igokea moved up a place in the Group C standings by defeating Fenerbahce Ulker 86-91 on the road in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. The victory lifted Partizan to a 6-8 record, tied with both Fenerbahce and Lottomatica Roma, which lost at home to Chorale Roanne. Fenerbahce had a 3-1 record against the tied teams and finished fourth in the group, while Partizan was 2-2 and fifth, Roma 1-3 and sixth. In a game of streaks, Partizan turned things around for good with a 6-22 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Nikola Pekovic again led the winners with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Milenko Tepic followed him with 17 points, while Dusan Kecman had 12 of his 14 during the pivotal turnaround run. Milt Palacion just missed a double-double with 10 points and 9 assists. For Fenerbahce, Will Solomon finished with 22 points and 6 assists. Omer Onan added 15 points, 13 of those in the third quarter, while Omer Asik had 13 points, 9 rebounds and Rasim Basak scored 12. Both teams will find out their Top 16 groups at next Monday's draw in Madrid.
With Euroleague rebounds leader Mirsad Turkcan and center Semih Erden still out injured, Partizan got the ball directly inside to Pekovic, who responded with 3 quick baskets good for a 5-6 lead. Fenerbahce already saw a triple from Solomon and got another from Rasim Basak to tie at 10-10. Pekovic went up to 10 points himself with his next basket, a tip-in, but Emir
Preldzic's shot from the arc put Fenerbahce in front 13-12. A scorless minute ended with an exchange of free throws before Solomon buried a shot from downtown to make it 18-14. Slavko Vranes and Cetomir Vitkovac kept Partizan within 20-18, before Tarence Kinsey came off Fenerbahce's bench to hit his own three-pointer. Fenerbahce's defense held up long enough for Solomon to make a killer drive on the buzzer plus the free throw that came with it, extending the hosts' lead to 27-18 after one quarter.
Partizan busted out in the second quarter with a triple by Milenko Tepic and fastbreak layups by Pekovic and Palacio. Those set up another triple by Tepic that made for a 2-10 run and cut the difference to 29-28. Solomon was hurt on the next play, and after a timeout, Tepic punctuated the comeback with a go-ahead two-pointer. Pekovic continue the run, now up to 2-16, with consecutive baskets. Fenerbahce kept launching triples until Basak landed another to make it 32-34. Bodies were flying as Pekovic and Tepic kept scoring while Solomon and Damir Mrsic answered. Uros Tripkovic joined the fun for Partizan, nailing a big triple and another jumper just short before Palacio's drove for a layup worth the visitors' biggest lead yet, 36-45. But Mrsic finished the half beating the buzzer from the arc for a 39-45 scoreboard at the break.
Kinsey opened the second half with a basket for Fenerbahce and then Onan took over with 6 straight points that got the hosts right back into the game at 45-45. Vetkovic and Mric traded triples before Omer Asik's put-back of an offensive rebound for Fenerbahce tied again, 50-50. Palacio's free throws were matched by Onan's running hook before Asik detonated a dunk for a 52-51 Fenerbahce lead. Vrankes tipped in to take it back for Partizan, but Onan busted the zone with a triple for the hosts. Vitkovac tied it now, 57-57, at the foul line, but Asik and Onan kept attacking the rim as Fenerbahce went up 61-57 to the delight of the crowd. Kecman silenced them by burying a triple out of a timeout, then after Onan's free throws, another from downtown plus a fastbreak layup to return the lead to Partizan, 65-67 after 30 minutes.
Kecman continued his takeover with a couple early baskets in the fourth quarter. Then came back-to-back triples from Tepic and Novica Velickovic that broke the scoreboard open at 67-79 for Partizan. Fenerbahce's bad luck was apparent as a triple by Solomon was disallowed for leaving after the 24-second shot clock had expired, but the hosts went inside to Ogus Savas for 5 consecutive points and then used Basak's 2 of 3 free throws to pull within 75-81. Partizan then went to its sure thing, Pekovic, who got to the line, hit both free throws, then scored inside again to make it 77-85.
Thursday, January 31, 2008