One team was going make its move in Group C, and to the delight of the fans in Wroclaw, Poland on Thursday night, Idea Slask did just that with a commanding 83-74 victory over visiting Partizan Mobtel. The victory broke their tie for sixth place in favor of Idea Slask, whose record improved to 5-7. Idea could even tie for all important fifth-place - the last guaranteed Top 16 berth - depending on how Olympiacos does in its visit to Adecco Asvel on Thursday. At the very least, Idea will be tied for the best sixth-place record across three groups, which also comes with a Top 16 berth, the very last one. Partizan fell to 4-8 and must hope for miracles now to qualify for the Top 16. Idea pulled out its best game of the season when it counted most, leading throughout and rarely being threatened by the Yugoslavs. Andrius Giedraitis led the winners with 22 points, while Sean Colson added 16 and Dominik Tomczyk 14. Idea withstood 25 points from Euroleague scoring leader Milos Vujanic and a 36-21 advantage in rebounds for Partizan. Frederic House added 15 points for Partizan, Djuro Ostojic and Nenad Krstic 10 each.
The game started like a dream for the hosts and like a nightmare for the guests. Idea sprinted out of the gate to leads of 13-3 and 15-6. Giedraitis had 8 of those early points, but the ball was moving to others, too. Alexander Koul was making his presence felt inside, as was Tomczyk, and Colson landed a triple. There was also something indicative in those lonely 6 points of Partizan: They had all come on a pair of triples by Vujanic, but otherwise the visitors were not getting good shots. Often, the ball was lost before Partizan could take a shot. Vujanic kept scoring, 12 of his team's first 15 points, but Partizan's defense was not stopping Idea Slask. The lead hit a high of 29-16 before the hosts pulled in with a 29-18 advantage after 10 minutes.
Everything unexpectedlly changed in the second quarter with Vujanic on the bench. Dusan Kecman entered and scored 7 quick points, but now Partizan's defence was the key, holding Idea to just 2 points over 5 minutes. The comeback was nearly consummated at 31-28 on a basket by Nenad Canak. It was the first test of Idea Slask's control. Maciej Zielinski joined Giedraitis and Colson, who hit a triple, in brushing back the challenge with an 8-1 run to another double-digit lead, 39-29. The Polish champs nursed that well for the rest of the period and went to the lockers in full command at 47-34. One of the curicial turns came in the final 5 seconds as Vujanic missed 3 foul shots and Colson made a layup on the buzzer.
After the half, Vujanic got scoring help from House and Ostojic, who came up with 5 points each to bring Partizan back within striking distance at 49-41. Vujanic then landed a triple but was hit with a technical for trying to argue a foul on the shot. The difference stuck between 7 and 12 points for the next few minutes, but Idea Slask was always up to protecting the lead, which stood at 67-58 after 30 minutes.
Partizan would see an opportunity early in the final quarter, when Koul left the game with his fifth foul and the scoreboard read 69-62, a difference of 7 with as many minutes left. With the help of newcomer Acie Earl, who would finish with 6 points, Idea Slask's defense stood up to the task in the middle. The hosts' lead held at 76-67 when Dainius Adomaitis fouled out, but still Krstic and Ostojic could not get points inside. Vujanic's habitual scoring swelled to 25 points, but he couldn't get the ball to his teammates at key moments. In the final 5 minutes, Tomczyk, Colson and Giedraitis took the reins again and drove Idea impeccably to the finish for a life-giving victory.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003