Snaidero Udine dropped Metis Varese 83-77
The derby law ruled also in Udine on Tuesday, as Snaidero held serve in the ULEB Cup eighthfinals but had to fight until the very last minute to take the 83-77 home win against visiting Metis of Varese. A triple scored by Sasha Vujacic in the last seconds of the game decided the outcome. Varese, which played without big men Shawnelle Scott and Cristiano Zanus Fortes, suffered double-digit disadvantages in the third quarter, but led by captain Francesco Vescovi came back right before the final buzzer with three points to make up, 80-77 before Vujacic's three. Snaidero will travel next week to Varese with 6 points to defend, but a derby is always a derby and escapes all laws of prognostication. Udine's top scorer was Mikhail Mikhailov, who nailed 18 points, followed by Misan Nikagbatse, who added 16, but real hero was Vujacic, all of whose 14 points came in the second half, supported by Michele Mian, who added 12. Varese had 24 points by guard Rusty La Rue, followed by Boris Gorenc with 15, Paolo Conti with 12, and Vescovi with 11.
Udine took early lead in the first quarter, exploiting its rebounding lead (35-29 at the end). Thanks to Nigakbatse, who scored all his 16 points in the first 20 minutes, the hosts closed the first quarter with 5 points to defend. Paolo Conti was the engine for Varese, who stayed into the game in the first 10 minutes thanks to his 8 points. Newcomer Brian Tolbert made his ULEB cup debut in the second quarter for Snaidero, joining in a 3-2 zone defense, that created many difficulties for the guests. Snaidero's 7-0 run pushed the lead into double digits at 28-16 early in the second period, thanks to some steals and easy baskets on the break. Varese stopped the slide with Rusty LaRue, who led the guests on a timely 7-0 run in the last minute of the second quarter. That reduced the gap to just 4 points, 43-39, as the teams regrouped for the second half.
Varese surprised Snaidero in the second half by lining up young center Pavel Podkolzin, who started intimidating inside the paint, obliging Udine to find perimer solutions. Varese started an overthrow and took a four-point lead in the third period. Snaidero took back the lead thanks to Mikhailov and Mian at the end of the quarter, 64-59, and then Sasha Vujacic's show could begin: Slovenian guard hit 11 consecutive points, including a pair of four-point plays, and Udine had back a 13-point lead. Varese's captain Vescovi tried to stop the slide by hitting a couple threes. Together with Podkolzin's 8 points, the visitors reduced the gap to just 3 points in the final minutes, just before Vujacic's final three, that closed the game.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003