The question of which previously winless Euroleague team would climb the victory stand first was answered early and resoundingly Wednesday as Partizan Mobtel pulled off a last-minute 78-80 upset on the road at Olympiacos in Group C. Milos Vujanic had another splendid game for Partizan with 25 points, but it was Nenad Canak who stole the game from the Reds, who led by 10 with 6 minutes to play. Canak made a three-pointer to put Partizan ahead 77-78, then Misa Nikagbatse tied it 78-78 by making just 1 of 2 free throws. With the last possession, Vujanic let the clock run down before passing to Canak, who penetrated for the game-winning shot, which fell through just before the buzzer sounded. The result left both teams at 1-3 in the Group D standings. Vujanic had 20 ofhis game-high 25 points in the first half for Partizan. Djuro Ostojic added 18 for the winners, Canak and Marvin O'Connor 11 each. Olympiacos, which enjoyed a 14-point lead late in the third quarter, got 23 points and 10 rebounds by Ignacio De Miguel. DeMarco Johnson added 18 points for the Reds, Milan Tomic 12 and Nenad Markovic 10.
The early part of the game looked like an individual duel more than anything else. Olympiacos took a quick 8-0 lead with 8 consecutive points from one player, Markovic, including a pair of three-pointers. Partizan needed an answer, and who better to call on than the Euroleague MVP from the previous week, Vujanic. The visiting point guard answered that call and then some, putting on an offensive display that saw Partizan roar into the lead at 9-12. The home team's own master of ceremonies, Milan Tomic, would put the Reds back in the lead, 18-16, with a three-pointer. But Vuanic was still on the attack, and finished with 11 points in the quarter, although Olympiacos was able to hang on for a 20-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Vujanic stayed hot in the second quarter, hitting incredible shots from the perimeter, the same as he did a week earlier on his way to 36 points against Virtus Bologna. Now, however, he was getting help from Ostojic, O'Connor and Dusan Kecman, whose collective effort was needed to balance the points that De Miguel started getting for Olympiacos. The Reds center was hurting Partizan on the offensive glass, but his only help at that point was coming from Johnson. Still, Olympiacos was holding on and the local fans even got a glimpse of new shooting guard Maurice Evans, who debuted with 2 points in the quarter. It all added up to a tie, 41-41 at the half, which was good news for Partizan, but not so good for Olympiacos. Another visitor made it that far with confidence on the Reds' floor.
The home team's worries seemed to dissipate in the third quarter, however, as De Miguel led a charge on the scoreboard. Again getting his way on the boards, the Olympiacos big man pushed the lead to its highest all night, 61-47, late in the third quarter. Fortunately for Partizan, Ostojic and Kosta Perovic came up with big baskets to snap the visitors out of the fog and put the deficit at a more manageable 62-52 after 30 minutes.
Olympiacos started the fourth quarter intent on controlling that lead, and did so for several minutes, holding onto a 70-60 lead with 6 minutes to play. That, however, is when Vujanic and friends woke up and went on an 0-10 run over 3 minutes against a frozen Olympiacos defense. Vujanic's layup made it 70-64 with 4 minutes to go, and within another minute, Canak had completed Partizan's comeback run with a layup that tied it 70-70. After 2 free throws by Tomic and a basket by Ostojic, Johnson got to the basket for 2 and then to the line for 1 out of 2 to push the Reds into a winning position, 75-72, with 1 minute to go. Vujanic made a couple free throws now, but Johnson kept the Reds ahead 77-75 with 27 seconds left. That's when Canak drilled his three to go ahead, and after Mikagbatse's missed free throw, took home Partizan's first win at the buzzer.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Kostas Sotiriou, Athens