In a tight Group E, Partizan NIS Belgrade picked up a massive road win against AS Monaco on Tuesday night. The players from the Serbian powerhouse celebrated on the floor of Stade Louis II to the tune of their fans who carried them to victory despite being a couple thousand kilometers away from home. However, that Partizan post-game celebration was delayed a bit after the shock and the opportunity the visiting team missed at the final buzzer.
Monaco won their Round 3 game last week 68-72 and Partizan was up 65-71 in the final seconds of this encounter. But Monaco's Sergii Gladyr drew a foul from Bandja Sy while shooting a three-pointer and then knocked down all 3 free throws – his first points of the game – with 4.3 seconds left, making it 68-71. Partizan had a final possession, but Djordje Gagic missed a wide-open sitter from just outside the circle.
"We missed a layup to win the game by 5, but I never-ever made this mistake of pointing fingers on these things. You cannot reduce a basketball game to one play, to one possession, to one ball," Partizan head of bench Andrea Trinchieri explained during the post-game press conference. "[My players] played a great game, with great intensity, great energy, they were even smart in some parts of the game. I don't have bitter feelings."
In these two games that took place over the last 7 days, Monaco dominated for the first three quarters in Belgrade last week, but the momentum Partizan gained last week in the fourth quarter carried over to Tuesday night's clash. Partizan opened an 11-point margin early and even though Monaco battled back to take the lead, Partizan had good shot selection and a nice balance between its inside and outside game that allowed it to regain the advantage in the third quarter and then open a 59-68 lead with 2 minutes to go.
"Today Partizan played much smarter than in the first game," Monaco head coach Saso Filipovski stated after the loss. "Alex Renfroe was the creator of this result. He showed why he played in the EuroLeague and he showed his experience and quality and, in the end, he controlled the situation."
But even Filipovski acknowledged that there was a little bit of a victory for Monaco in the 3-point loss: "We were lucky on the last possession, when they rebounded the ball and missed... In Belgrade we won by 4 points, here we lost by 3 points, and this plus-1 point is good about this game. Every game and every point will be important in this tough group."
Indeed, Partizan is the only team in this group with a positive point-difference (+5) after four rounds, with ALBA Berlin leading the group at 3-1 but with a negative-1 point-difference. Monaco is negative-3 and last-placed Rytas Vilnius at 1-3 and negative-1. The group looks like it will go down to the wire and that last shot Partizan failed to convert, while Monaco managed to survive, could be huge when all is said and done in the Top 16.