With an iron defense, Union Olimpija made a bold move in Group B by turning back the revelation of the Euroleague, Opel Skyliners of Frankfurt, by a whopping 81-55 on Wendesday. It was an unexpectedly easy fourth win after two road defeats and raises Olimpija's record to 4-2, just like the team from Frankfurt, whose record dropped to the same numbers. Both teams can wait for the two-week break with no worries, since they already got more than expected from the first six games. The hosts were led by Tunji Awojobi with 17 points. Jiri Welsch added 15 and Jurica Golemac helped with 13 more. The guests didn't have much besides Marcus Goree, who led them with 22 points, and Alexander Lokhmanchuk, with 14.
It was a very balanced and defensive first quarter. Zmago Sagadin's unusual starting five surprised the German coach Gordie Herbert, who started with his best men on the court. Both teams started with perfect defenses which allowed very few shot attempts. Way into the sixthminute of game the score was 4-2, and it was then when the home coach made his usual starting players step on the court. Haris Mujezinovic, Welsch, Jasmin Hukic and Awojobi gave the game a different color, but the 10-5 after a three by Hukic soon turned into 10-9. After the strong defenses, the quarter ended with a handball-like score: 14-11.
The second quarter changed the scenario a little bit, most of all on Olimpija's side who started playing a more offensive basketball. Until the 16-15, Lokhmanchuk and Virgil Stanescu were in charge of the Skyliners being on Olimpija's chase, but from then on, Welsch exploded. With 7 points in a row and 4 more by Awojobi, the direction of the game changed and Olimpija pulled away by 27-15. The Germans didn't score a point for more than three minutes, and the players went to half with 32-23 on the scoreboard.
The third period broke the game open, since Olimpija had more players available, and the lead did nothing more than increasing as the game went by. A three-pointer by Vlado Ilievski in the first play of the second half meant 35-23 and the biggest lead for Olimpija to that moment: 13 points. The hosts didn't slow down a bit pressing all over the court, and getting the Skyliners tired. That's how at the end of the third, te lead had increased to 17 points: 54-37. The last quarter was a mere formality, and both coaches sat on their benches and gave minutes to the reserve players until the final 81-55, a score that says it all.
Wednesday, November 14, 2001