Union Olimpija got its first win in Group B by downing Lottomatica Roma 83-72
Days after a change of head coaches, Union Olimpija got its first win in Group B by downing Lottomatica Roma 83-72 in the team's home opener in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Wednesday. Both teams are now 1-1 in the Group B standings. It was a big home win for Olimpija and interim head coach Gasper Okorn, in his Euroleague debut on the bench. Usual starters Ender Arslan and Ivica Jurkovic were sidelined for the game, while Saulius Kuzminskas, Christian Maraker and Saso Ozbolt were slowed by injuries. Ozbolt led the winners with 18 points on 4 of 4 three-pointers. Domen Lorbek added 15 points and 8 rebounds, Marko Milic had 14 points while Teemu Rannikko popped 10 for Olimpija. Loukas Mavrokefalidis had 15 points for Roma, David Hawkins added 13, Alex Righetti 11 and Dejan Bodiroga 10. The game saw six lead changes and eight ties in the opening three periods until Rannikko scored in the low post for a 62-61 Olimpija edge. Ozbolt, Christian Maraker and Hasan Rizvic shined in the final period, fueling a 16-5 run to open the quarter and allow Olimpija to keep control of a big win.
Jerome Moiso needed just 15 seconds to score in the low post and then matched Manu Markoishvili's six-meter jumper with another close basket for a 2-4 Roma lead. Milic shined with an alley-oop layup but Mavrokefalidis followed an easy basket with a put-back layup to keep the guests ahead, 4-8. Domen Lorbek stepped up with a driving basket, but Hawkins replied with a fastbreak layup. Lorbek nailed a three-pointer from the right corner, igniting a 8-0 run that Rannikko capped with an acrobatic triple, forcing a Roma timeout at 14-11. Mavrokefalidis scored a short jumper in the paint that Lorbek matched with free throws, but Roma's Vlado Ilievski buried a corner triple for another tie, 16-16. Mavrokefalidis and Lorbek exchanged three-pointers while Dejan Bodiroga hit his trademark jumper to keep his team ahead, 19-21. Saso Ozbolt hit one from downtown and Rannikko made a free throw to tie it at 23-23 after 10 exciting minutes.
Ozbolt fed Milic for an easy layup and then beat Ognjen Askrabic's layup with his second three-pointer for a 28-25 Olimpija edge. Markoishvili found his way for a fastbreak layup but Jiacopo Giachetti and Hawkins beat the hosts' zone defense with consecutive baskets to get Roma within 30-29. Olimpija called timeout to fix its offense and a red hot Ozbolt nailed another three-pointer to keep the hosts in charge, 33-29. Hawkins hit free throws but Maraker dunked it to make Olimpija gain the momentum. The whole Roma frontcourt had troubles against Maraker and Kuzminskas now. Meanwhile, Markoishvili and Maraker hit free throws to make it a seven-point game, 38-31. Hawkins buried an incredible triple but Kuzminskas followed a put-back layup with a fastbreak dunk to make Roma call timeout at 42-34. Only free throws were scored in the final 2 minutes, as Bodiroga made 3 and Rannikko 2 to fix the score at 44-37 at halftime.
Alessandro Tonolli fired in a jumper right after the break while Hawkins copied him soon after that to get the guests within 44-41. Milic woke Olimpija up with a second-chance basket while Lorbek and Tonolli exchanged free throws, as the hosts kept a small lineup with Milic at power forward. Roma made the most out of it, as Mavrokefalidis made free throws while Righetti buried a triple in a 0-7 run which Hawkins capped with a jumper to put Roma ahead, 47-49. Hasan Rizvic answered with a two-handed dunk and added a layup in a 6-0 Olimpija run which Milic capped with a layup. Righetti nailed another triple but Milic shined with a power layup to keep his team ahead, 55-52. Righetti and Lorbek exchanged free throws. Olimpija tried alternative defenses now, and but Mavrokefalidis scored again, Bodiroga banked in a short jumper while another triple by Righetti gave Roma a 60-61 edge, but Rannikko beat the buzzer with a left-handed layup for a 62-61 Olimpija edge after three quarters.
Markoishvili paced Olimpija with a fastbreak layup right at the start of the fourth quarter. Both teams went scoreless for 2 long minutes in which the game turned into a thriller - until Ozbolt buried a corner triple for a six-point Olimpija lead, 67-61. Mavrokefalidis and Askrabic insisted to take three-point shots and the whole Roma offense collapsed. Tonolli scored from downtown but Maraker immediately answered with a short jumper and added an uncontested layup for a seven-point Olimpija lead, 71-64, with 4 minutes to go. Ozbolt shined with an acronatic layup, Rizvic had a big block on Hawkins while Olimpija grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds to keep full control of the game. A follow-up layup by Rizvic sealed the win, 75-65, with under 2 minutes to go. Roma never recovered and Olimpija celebrated a big home win.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006