Union Olimpija has stepped strong into the second round of the 2001-02 Euroleague by beating Peristeri in Athens 67-75, a result which allowed the Slovenian team to increase its record to 5-3 and to stay alive for qualification to the Top 16. The Greeks have dropped to 2-6 and further out of the running for the next round. Unstoppable by any kind of defense, Adam Wojcik played like a monster and scored 33 points, but it was not enough for Peristeri. Being 8 points down at the beginning of the third quarter, Olimpija came up big to cut the margin and to win the game. Jiri Welch and Jurica Golemac scored 21 points each, Beno Udrich added a great defense on Byron Dinkins and 11 points, Tunji Awojobi delivered 10 points and a block shot which secured the win.
The first quarter of the game seemed to be a one-man show. Forward Adam Wojcik managed to score the first 6 points and 14 out of the first 17 for Peristeri to lead his team in taking advantage of the foul trouble Olimpija faced early on. After five minutes of play, the Slovenian team has already committed five personal fouls against none for Peristeri, and that was the factor which allowed to the Greek team to stay alive despite not scoring a field goal in four minutes. Kostas Tsartsaris broke the drought for Peristeri after 6 points scored from the free throw line and Wocjik tied the game in 10-10. Dinkins was sitting on the bench, due to three turnovers in three minutes, but Zmago Sagadin had more serious problems, three fouls each on Stipe Modric and Haris Mujezinovic in five minutes. Sagadin was angry, and four foul shots that resulted from a technical foul called on him and a three-pointer by Dinkins, Peristeri took 22-15 advantage after 10 minutes. Wojcik had scored 14 points for Peristeri and Welch 10 for Olimpija.
Despite the foul trouble, Olimpija, led by Awojobi and Golemac, stayed alive and forged a 12-4 run, good enough to take a 26-27 lead after 15 minutes. But just after a big three-pointer by Golemac, Peristeri found the way to build a new margin. Wojcik performed great against the zone defense, Manolis Papamakarios played great defense against Welch and it was Peristeri's turn to make a 10-0 run to a 36-27 advantage. At halftime, Peristeri was ahead, 38-32, with Wojcik and his 21 points, including 14-for-16 free throw shooting, written all over it. Welch then had 12 points for Olimpija.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Dinkins gave pushed Peristeri's lead to 40-32, but Olimpija had the proper answer in the hands of Golemac, who scored seven consecutive points, to cut the margin to two, 41-39, after 23 minutes of play. Both teams made consecutive turnovers, but Wojcik was always there. He added five points on his own, with a tremendous offensive move against Alexander Radojevic and a three-point shot, to re-open the margin to seven, 46-39. Michalis Pelekanos committed his fifth personal foul, but Peristeri reached a seven-point advantage once again, 50-43, with two minutes left in the quarter, but the Slovenians didn't rise their hands up. Led by Udrich and Golemac , they made a run of 8-2 to pull within 52-51. A basket by Dinkins concluded the third quarter 54-51. Olimpija tied it 58-58 and Udrich gave his team a 62-64 lead after two minutes of the final quarter. With Peristeri still down two, 64-66, Dinkins tried to score, but Jure Zdovc stole the ball, allowingi Welch to expand the margin with a basket. Now it was Awojobi's turn to make a great defensive play, once again on Dinkins. The Nigerian forward made a crucial block shot, which has secured the victory. Olimpija had closed out the game with a 17-7 run, from 60-58 to 67-75.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
Vassilis Skountis, Athens