Nikola Pekovic had another huge evening, including 7 points during a 12-1 fourth quarter run to lead Partizan Igokea to an 82-76 win over Chorale Roanne on Wednesday night at Pionir Arena in Belgrade, Serbia. Pekovic finished with 26 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and 4 blocked shots for the Serbian champs, who stopped a three-game slide and improved to 4-5 in Group C. Moreover, Partizan swept the season series with Roanne, which could prove to be important in the event of tiebreakers later on as both sides eye the Top 16. Roanne, coming off back-to-back wins, dropped to 3-9. Playing in front of an empty arena due to disciplinary issues, Partizan fell behind early and trailed by as many as 17 in the first period. Partizan came back in the second period, but three straight threes to end the half put Roanne on top at halftime 40-51. The hosts got it close again in the third, but waited till the fourth to make their move, when Pekovic, aided by Milenko Tepic, used a 12-1 run to put Partizan ahead for good. Tepic finished with a season-high 18 and Novica Velickovic scored 14 for Partizan. Brion Rush led Roanne with 15, while Marc Salyers – who came into the game leading the Euroleague in scoring – finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Adam Hess also scored 14 and Pape Badiane had 10.
Tepic opened the scoring with a layup in front of a quiet court. The first few minutes saw the teams trade baskets before Rush and Marc-Antoine Pellin put the visitors ahead 6-11. Velickovic guarded Salyers and Badiane was on Pekovic as the main weapons in both teams were almost invisible in the first period. Pellin picked up 2 steals and Rush scored twice in the fast break as Roanne increased the lead to double figures. Then Salyers stepped up as the visitors increased their lead to 9-23. Badiane joined with 5 straight points and the score was 11-28. After 10 minutes, Roanne led 14-30.
Partizan switched to zone, forcing the guests to call time out after an 8-0 run. Pekovic added a basket-plus-foul as Partizan cut the gap to 27-35. Velickovic with a triple and Pekovic inspired a 9-0 charge, though Roanne still led 40-41 with two minutes left in the period. Ron Hale, Pierrick Poupet and Hess struck with three straight bombs as the French champ finished first half up 40-51.
Partizan opened the second half with 5-0 run and much stronger defensive play. Vitkovac joined with a triple and after a 10-2 surge, Roanne’s lead was cut to 50-53. At that moment, the Partizan bench committed technical foul giving, which allowed Roanne the chance to take a breath. Hess was made it a 6-point gap as Roanne was slowing its pace. Uros Tripkovic hit from downtown, but on the defensive side he fouled Hess, who was shooting behind the arc. Hess missed 2 of 3 and the score was 60-64 at the end of the third period.
After Milt Palacio pushed Partizan with a three-point play and Tepic scored, the hosts had a 65-64 lead. Pellin struck with a bomb and William Soliman converted a second-chance basket as guests reestablished the lead via a 0-7 run. Tepic and Pekovic combined for 6 straight points to tie it at 71-71. Pekovic continued to terrorize the Roanne defense and soon Partizan had a slim lead. Now it was the visiting team that was running. But Tepic and Velickovic were cool handed at the penalty line and Partizan increased its lead to 80-74 with two minutes to go. Badiane made a last effort, blocking Pekovic's dunk attempt, but Palacio and Velickovic scored from the line for Partizan’s fourth victory of the season.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007