Tau Ceramica earned its largest win of the Euroleague season by downing Idea Slask Wroclaw by 95-75 on Wednesday in Vitoria to force a third-place tie in Group C. Tau, Slask and Benetton Treviso are all knotted now with 3-2 records. Tau took advantage of the debut of center Andrew Betts, injured during the first month of the season, to outrebound Slask 43-25. Betts was a key factor in the first three quarters and ended up sitting with 14 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes. Andres Nocioni was the top scorer for Tau with 22 points, and doubled up with 11 rebounds. Kornel David chipped in 14 points and Jose Manuel Calderon ended with 13 for the winners. Lynn Greer of Slask led all scorers with a game-high 26 points, while Dominik Tomcyck and Adam Wojcick collected 14 and 12 respectively.
Betts not only enjoyed his first minutes in a Tau jersey after two months injured, but was given a place in the starting five. The center's presence on court was noticed by everyone as Tau managed to take 4 offensive rebounds in the very beginning. Nevertheless, Betts also showed he need more time to be fit so he was substituted after 5 minutes by Koturovic. In that time Slask managed to take a 10-12 lead thanks to the mobility of its frontcourt, particularly Ryan Randle and Adam Wojcik. A basket-plus-free throw by Sergi Vidal put the hosts ahead again, then Nocioni and Calderon increased the margin from the free throw line to 16-12. But Idea certainly didn't give up, and thanks to Greer, who started feeding Ryan Randle inside, came back to tie at 21-21. The first quarter ended with like fireworks, with a trio of three-pointers - by Greer and Dominik Tomczyk of Idea, by Nocioni of Tau - and then a buzzer-beater by Vidal as the visitors clung to a 28-29 advantage.
The second period saw Slask force a slew of turnovers on the hosts, and take advantage to forge a seven-point lead, 28-35, in after 22 minutes. Kornel David was substituted after his third fouls by young Tiago Splitter, and that was the beginning of a new game for Tau. With Splitter and Betts pounding inside, Tau's defense ignited a 9-0 run that turned the scoreboard upside-down at 37-35. Greer, who suffered from Pablo Prigioni's ball pressure for Tau, struggled to run Slask's offense. Once Tau controlled the pace, it was a monologue. A three-pointer by Macijauskas followed by a dunk from Splitter and a tap-in by Nocioni gave Tau a game-high 10-point margin at 47-37. A couple of late three-pointers by Tomcyck and Greer was just what Slask needed at that time and reduced the gap at halftime to 54-49. Nocioni was leading the home team with 17 points, while Greer had collected 14 for Idea.
Nocioni opened fire soon after the intermission and Macijauskas finished a fastbreak as Tau recovered a solid advantage, 58-49. Betts kept providing easy baskets and Calderon nailed a pair of free throws that forced Idea to take an urgent timeout at 62-49. Slask decided to use a zone defense now, but David and Nocioni broke it with open shots for a 69-55 scoreboard. Wojcick was the only one able to add some points for the guests. The first ovation of the night came when Betts went off after committing his fourth foul. The English center had already amassed 14 points and grabbing 7 boards, more than the most optimistic Tau supporter could have expected. Slask, with Randle and Tomczyk in foul trouble, had to rely upon Greer's shooting to reach the end of third quarter trailing by 11 points, 77-66.
Four points in a row by Splitter boosted Tau to its biggest margin, 81-66, just as the last period started. Although Greer tried to do his best in order to revive his teammates, there was no chance of reducing the gap. The main barrier for the guests was the fact that Tau dominated the boards, so despite of poor shoting, the hosts always ended up getting points. The gap enlarged to 19 with only 1 minute remaining after an offensive rebound by David. Ivanovic, knowing that the game was already over gave his son Stefan a chance, replacing Vidal. Although he could not take any shot, Stefan enjoyed the largest win earned by his father's team in the Euroleague this season as 2 points by Calderon closed the game with a 95-75 score.
Wednesday, December 3, 2003