Even though he didn't score 31 points like in Week 1, Hanno Mottola was without a doubt the decisive player for the second win of Tau Ceramica in Group B at Union Olimpija, 72-76, on Wednesday. His basket with 42 seconds to go marked the first time in the whole game that Tau jumped ahead in the score, 70-71, and 2 free throws he sank calmly with 14 seconds to go sealed the win. Tau climbs atop group B with a 2-0 record while Olimpija stands at 1-1. The winners were led by Andres Nocioni with 19 points. Jerome Allen added 14 and Mottola hit for 13. For the losers, Vlado Ilievski had 14 and Vladimir Boisa contributed 12.
While Dusko Ivanovic started the game with two big men, Rashard Griffith and Hanno Mottola, Tomo Mahoric left his two on the bench, Josko Poljak and newcomer Robert Dryden, and sarted with a small five. It was a right option since the speed of Ilievski, Jurak and Mario Bazdaric was too much for Tau, who in minute 4 was already losing 14-3. Ivanovic called a timeout and changed Griffith for Luis Scola, but the hosts kept pacing the game, ahead 17-3 in minute 5. Except for the three by Petar Dujmovic, all the points were scored under the boards. After 10 minutes the scoreboard showed 22-11.
The second quarter saw Jasmin Hukic and Josko Poljak on court. Tau wasn't able to penetrate under the rims, and the long-range shots were the visitors only option. Meanwhile, Olimpija boosted forward to a 32-17 lead. But only a few seconds later, Leo Palladino hit his first three, followed by two consecutive baskets by Nocioni, plus another one by Allen to put the Spaniards back in the game at 32-26. This effort though, had also its bad side as Scola, Mottola and Sergi Vidal all had three fouls. In the last minute, Bazdaric hit from downtown for 37-26, with which the teams hit the lockerrooms.
One of the telling statistics of the first half ws that Olimpija shot 16 more times than Tau, 39-23, but this didn't help the hosts at the beginning of the third quarter. Tau looked like another team, and it only took the guests 3 minutes to get close at 41-38. Boisa was good enough for 6 straight points though, sustaining the lead at 47-38. But then, fatigue seemed to set in for Olimpija and the fast pace of the first half decreased. This was good for Tau, who by minute 28 was only 4 points down, 51-47. Two consecutive timeouts gave some air to the hosts, who rallied for a 7-1 run to finish the third quarter ahead 58-48.
In the last 10 minutes, Allen wanted the ball, and after Olimpija jumped ahead at 61-52, the crowd was able to witness the quality of this player. With 5 straight points, he put his team close at 68-62. Then three-pointers by Mottola and Nocioni changed the direction of the game, 70-69. Later, the crucial basket by Mottola fell in Olimpija's basket, and the following offensive plays of the hosts were badly organized, allowing Tau to take the win after having been down during the previous 39 minutes.
Thursday, October 17, 2002