Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez is already shouting from the rooftops of Group C. In its first Euroleague road game on Wednesday, the French champions knocked host Zadar from the ranks of the undefeated with a studious 79-83 victory in Croatia. Brad Sellers worked the inside for 19 points, largely in the second half, to lead Pau. Frederic Fauthoux was the force in the first half as Pau seized double-digit leads that served to keep Zadar on its heels the rest of the way. Pau is now secure with a 2-0 record at the top of Group C, while Zadar's first loss of any kind this season leaves it at 1-1. Tied 77-77 going into the final minute, Dragan Lukovski put Pau ahead 79-77 on a jumper, but Rumeal Robinson tied if for Zadar from the foulline. Young supertalent Boris Diaw came up with the shot that put Pau ahead for good, while Robinson missed a three-point attempt to win it for Zadar. Tomislav Ruzic led Zadar with 18 points. Robinson added 17 and Marko Popovic 13.
The game started with an 0-8 run by Pau that only stopped when Rumeal Robinson hit a three-pointer. That was enough of a wake-up call, however, for Zadar to quickly tie the game 8-8. Frederic Fauthoux then climbed off the bench to take over at point guard for the visitors and another burst ensued. When it was done at the end of the quarter, Pau was comfortably ahead 19-27. Fauthoux and fellow point guard Dragan Lukovski had accounted for 16 of those points for Pau, and while Robinson was leading Zadar with 10, you had to wonder if he was playing defense against his counterparts.
Zadar made its own changes in an effort to respond in the second quarter. Tomislav Ruzic headed an aggressive effort that limited Pau's offensive effectiveness while Zadar's offense inched back to life. The lead was down to 10 midway through the quarter, at 26-36, when the effect took hold. A couple minutes later, Davor Marcelic riased up for a three-pointer that cut the lead to 35-40. By the time it was over, with those Pau point guards now seemingly under control, Zadar was back within four, at 39-43, and back in the game thanks to a revived defense.
If Zadar's defense was back, it suddenly had to deal with a change of tactics from Pau, specifically a push inside to Sellers. But it was only good enough to hang on to a 60-63 lead going into the final quarter. That lead was cut out altogether as Zadar shot its way back into a 72-72 tie with 5 minutes left. Sellers was key in the final, five-minute push, but the Pau defense under road conditions proved even more important.
Wednesday, October 17, 2001