Union Olimpija showed it still something to say in Group A when its first victory came by 81-72 over AEK at home in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Thursday in the return of legendary head coach Zmago Sagadin to the home team's bench. Olimpija broke its four-game losing streak in the competition to improve to 1-4, while AEK dropped to 2-3, tied for fifth place with GHP Bamberg. Jimmy Oliver led the winners with 22 points, most of them when it mattered, including 10 of 10 free throws. Vasco Evtimov and Yotam Halperin each had 10 for Olimpija. Taylor Coppenrath led AEK with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Ioannis Kalambokis added 14 points on 9 of 10 free throws while Spyros Panteliadis scored 10 points for the guests. A three-pointer by Michalis Pelekanos gave AEK a 60-67 lead after 26 minutes, but Oliver had 7 points in a 9-0 run which put Olimpija back in charge. It all came down to the final 4 minutes, in which Halperin, Oliver and Szymon Szewczyk scored all the points in a final 16-4 run that allowed Olimpija fans to celebrate a much-needed win.
Halperin scored near the basket to get Olimpija going but Coppenrath matched it with a close basket. Rannikko picked up 2 quick fouls and Panteliadis stepped up with a coast-to-coast layup. Dragisa Drobnjak nailed a four-meter jumper which Bouroussis erased with a tip-in, igniting a 1-9 run in which Panteliadis added a fast break layup and which Pelekanos capped with a triple for a 7-14 AEK margin. Olimpija improved its offense with Morovic and Oliver on court. Morovic nailed consecutive threes, then added a power layup and fed Evtimov for a close basket. A big three by Oliver put Olimpija in charge, 20-18, but Coppenrath scored under the basket for a 20-20 tie after 10 minutes.
Panteleimon Papaioakim scored in the paint early in the second quarter and Kalambokis added a running layup for a 23-24 AEK edge. Olimpija struggled to score but its defense excelled now. Szewczyk came to the rescue the wild way with back-to-back high-flying dunks for a 27-25 Olimpija edge. AEK scored one point in almost 5 minutes but even with that, Coppenrath scores inside and Pelekanos added free throws to give the guests a 28-30 edge after 17 minutes. The game turned into a physical battle and AEK made the most of it. Kalambokis made free throws and Coppenrath shined with a power layup to boost the guests' margin to 28-34. Drobnjak followed a jump hook with a close basket, but free throws by Kalambokis and another tip-in by Coppenrath allowed AEK to get a 32-38 lead at halftime.
Drobnjak stayed on fire after the break with a put-back layup and Dijan added free throws to get Olimpija close at 36-38. Rimac tried to wake AEK up with a jumper while Morovic returned to the bench with 4 fouls. Hasan Rizvic worked well in the low post while Halperin fed Dijan to bring Olimpija within 40-41. Lionel Chalmers made a fast break layup in a 0-6 run which Pelekanos capped with a three, forcing an Olimpija timeout at 40-47. The hosts improved their defense and Olimpija found a go-to guy in Oliver, who scored 7 unanswered points on a driving layup and 5 free throws. AEK had 3 consecutive turnovers, while Evtimov capped a 9-0 run which a layup which put Olimpija in charge, 49-47. Rimac and Panteliadis combined for 4 quick points, but free throws by Rannikko and a buzzer-beating layup by Evtimov tied the game again, 53-53, after 30 minutes.
Panteliadis and Oliver exchanged baskets early in teh fourth quarter, while Rannikko hit a three from the top of the key to give Olimpija a 58-55 edge. The hosts, pushed by a noisy crowd, improved their defense and stayed focused in both ends. Evtimov made a short hook which Coppenrath matched with a power basket. Oliver nailed a crucial triple, but AEK was not done. Coppenrath followed free throws with a tip-in to make it a two-point game, 63-61. Olimpija called timeout while Kalambokis fired in a three to put AEK in charge, 63-64. Kalambokis made stepped up with 4 free throws, giving AEK a 65-68 lead with 3 minutes to go. Halperin scored from downtown while Szewczyk followed free throws with a driving layup for a 72-68 Olimpija edge already in the final 2 minutes. AEK called timeout and Coppenrath made free throws, but Halperin and Oliver sealed the outcome with 5 quick points, enough for all Olimpija fans to celebrate a well-deserved win!
Thursday, December 1, 2005