A showdown for first place in Group C went convincingly to the home team on Tuesday as Krka led early and was rarely threatened during an 85-75 victory in Novo Mesto, Slovenia against visiting RheinEnergie Cologne of Germany. As such, Krka (4-0) remained undefeated in Group C and took sole possession of first place, which it had shared with RheinEnergie (3-1) going into the game. Shooting guard Slavko Duscak was the big gun for Krka with 22 points on the night. He was followed in the scoring column by Aleksandar Capin with 14 and Dragisa Drobnjak, who celebrated his 25th birthday with 13. On Bonn's side, Zoran Kukic was able to put up 19 and big man Geert Hammink 14, but otherwise the Germans had trouble getting to the basket. Krka's victory was all the more impressive because it played without Jaime Arnold, its leading scorer and rebounder through the first three games, who suffered a slight injury over the weekend.
Krka didn't allow any surprises in the first half. Soon after the game started, the hosts took solid leads and didn't let RheinEnergie get close enough to feel confident during the first 20 minutes. Still, it was an interesting match due to the high tempo dictated by Krka, who got 13 points from Samo Grum and 7 from Drobnjak, while Kukic and Hammink allowed RheinEnergie to hold within 41-34 by the end of the half. After the break, the visitors got closer with the help of 4 points by Vladimir Bogojevic that cut the Krka lead to 41-38. The home team woke up quickly however, and as soon as their running game started again, they were ahead again by double digits. Duscak, particularly, was on fire, and had 17 points by the end of the third quarter, while Capin was getting fastbreak opportunities left and right. On RheinEnergie's side, only Hamnik and Sasa Obradovic were making challenges, but they weren't enough to prevent the home team from pouring it on for a 66-50 advantage headed into the final quarter. There, Krka once again started to feel comfortable, perhaps too much so, because as the quarter ticked away, 5 more points from Bogojevic almost imperilled the lead. With 2 minutes left to play, RheinEnergie dropped the deficit all the way to 8 points, 79-71. Soon, Cliff Harrison popped a three for the visitors, but already time was short. Marko Maravic and Vladimir Anzulovic secured the win for Krka at the end.
Tuesday, November 5, 2002