Partizan showed its power and stayed in the fight to make it to the Top 16 in difficult Group B by simply overwhelming injury-plagued Union Olimpija 106-60 in Belgrade, Serbia on Wednesday. Partizan improved to 5-7 and will at least tie for the fifth spot in Group B at the end of this week. Partizan still has two critical games left, a visit to Panathinaikos next week and the regular season finale at home against Unicaja, also 5-7. Olimpija, meanwhile, dropped to 3-9 and is all but mathematically out of the Top 16 race. Kosta Perovic paced the winners with 20 points by making 9 of 11 two-point shots. Predrag Drobnjak added 19 points and 8 rebounds, Uros Tripkovic had 16 on 4 of 5 three-point shooting while Vonteego Cummings chipped in 13. Partizan outrebounded Olimpija 32-15. Manu Markoishvili had 19 points for Olimpija. The visitors played without injured starter Teemu Rannikko, and without star forward Marko Milic, who was transferred to Real Madrid before the game. Ender Arslan added 11 and Domen Lorbek 10 for the guests, who trailed 58-28 at halftime and never recovered.
Perovic opened fire for Partizan in sold-out Pionir Arena and it wasn't long before he had combined with Tripkovic for 9 unanswered points to lift the hosts to an 11-2 advantage, forcing Olimpija's first timeout. Markoishvilli and Ivica Jurkovic managed to cut the gap to 13-7. Olimpija played with a lot of long-distance shots while Partizan's centers dominated in the paint. Lorbek and Tripkovic traded triples before Markoishvilli added one more to make it 21-13. Olimpija missed 4 straight free throws that might have helped keep Partizan from gaining momentum on the way to a 26-16 lead after 10 minutes.
Partizan took off even faster in the second quarter as Perovic with a mid-range shot and Petar Bozic with a bomb from downtown continued pushing the lead higher, to 31-16. Luka Bogdanovic added his first triple and points from a fastbreak while Perovic continued to terrorize the Olimpija defense. It all added up to a 14-0 run that had Partizan ahead by 45-18 after just 14 minutes and had the 7,000 home fans fired up, too. Olimpija had no way to stop the storm and Partizan led 52-22 when Drobnjak hit his second three-pointer. All that Olimpija could manage to do was maintain the difference at 58-28 by halftime. During those 20 minutes, Partizan had dominated in rebounding 15-8 while making 8 of 9 three-pointers and dishing 15 assists.
The second half Olimpija started playing for pride. A trio of triples shared by Markoishvilli and Lorbek sent the guests on a 1-11 run to a score of 64-41 in minute 25. Partizan played with less intensity on defense but soon Perovic woke up with 5 consecutive points. Olimpija tried a small lineup when Partizan switched to zone. Novica Velickovic replaced Drobnjak and had some bright minutes, scoring 7 straight points in 9-2 Partizan run that made the score 77-45 after three quarters.
The story was over but Partizan added one more 11-0 run at the begining of the final period to lead 88-45, holding Olimpija scoreless for more than 3 minutes. The difference was even bigger when Boris Bakic scored a triple for a 102-52 lead with 2 minutes to finish a 12-0 run. The biggest Partizan winning margin ever in the Euroleague was sealed with points from Tripkovic.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007