FMP Zeleznik advanced despite an 81-86 home loss to Trieste
Its armor was chipped by Zeleznik lives to fight in the quarterfinals despite losing 81-86 at home to Group Generali Trieste in their second game on Tuesday. A 73-91 road win by Zeleznik in the first leg held up as a big enough point difference to propel the Yugoslav League leaders into the next round. There, Zeleznik will challenge DKV Joventut of Spain, which came back to win its series against Charleroi of Belgium. In its rematch against Trieste on Tuesday, Zeleznik never led consistently, but neither did it let things get too far out of hand. Trieste's biggest lead was 13 points in the second quarter, but Zeleznik cut that to 9 by the half. Roberto Casoli was the player of the game with 25 points for Trieste. Sinisa Kelecevic aded 17 and Daniele Cavaliero 12. On the Zeleznik side, Reggie Freeman drove the turnaroun in the second half and finished with a team-high 17 points, while Goran Nikolic and Ivan Zoroski nailed 14 each.
Trieste came to Belgrade without injured Nate Erdmann and Terrance Roberson but started the game strong on offense. Big men Casoli and Andrea Camata reigned in the paint on both sides of the court. With 3 minutes left in the first period Trieste already led 9-15 and Zeleznik head coach Aco Petrovic had to rotate all his big guys. But Zeleznik's lauded defense was not so fierce and Trieste won the quarter 18-21. Zeleznik ace Ognjen Askrabic was far away from his best and to take advantage of that, the guests from Trieste made a 2-12 run in the second period to lead by 20-31. A few minutes later another Generali 2-8 run pushed the lead to 27-40 and it set off a red alert in the home team. Zoroski hit a triple in the last minute of the half and after Nikolic layup the teams went for a break with 38-47 on the board. Zeleznik had committedonly 8 fouls in the first half, quite low for such an aggressive defense.
The second half started with Zeleznik bringing back its well-known full court defense, and it was a very aggresive one that did just what it was meant to do. Trieste could not score and the result was 13-0 run and the first lead for the home team, 53-52, midway through the third quarter. Those were Freeman's bright minutes. Kelecevic and Cavaliero managed to strike back in the last minute for a moderate Trieste lead, 60-62, after three quarters. The story was over after a 10-2 Zeleznik run in the middle of the last period. Leading by 71-69, the home team was aleady in the quarterfinals with both feet. Trieste won at the end for a proud farewell to the this year's ULEB Cup competition. And Zeleznik team went to the locker room with Juventud in their minds.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003