Union Olimpija of Slovenia has begun its second season in the Euroleague with an 81-74 home victory over one of the tougher teams last season, Peristeri of Greece. The Slovenians got away with the win thanks to a tough defense over the final 10 minutes, when Peristeri only was able to score 14 points. The decisive player was the convalescent teenager Beno Udrih, who ended a four-minute scoreless streak for the home team with a three-pointer followed by a three-point driving play that put his team up 76-69 with a clear sight toward the victory. As if that wasn't enough, Udrih nailed another three in the final minute, for good measure.
As expected, the two coaches, Zmago Sagadin for Olimpija and Argirios Pedolakis for Peristeri, started the game with the best fives they had available. In Union Olimpija, the captain Jure Zdovc was missing due to an injury, and Peristeri came to Ljubljana without recently signed Mike Iuzzolino. Therefore, from one part the five was Welsch, Golemac, Ilievski, Modric and Mujezinovic, and from the other Dinkins, Wojcik, Tsartsaris, Carter and Andersen.
The first ten minutes saw how the two teams had alternative leads on the score not bigger than 2 or 3 points, but at the end of the first period, the Greek team took profit of their last offensive play and got a 4-point lead (17-21). This situation lasted only for a few minutes since the Slovenian team tied the score again (23-23), and with Welsch connecting from everywhere in the court (16 points in the first half), Olimpija got the lead (28-27). At that time, none of the starters was on court for Olimpija, and Pedolakis put Byron Dinkins on court (6 points) which was convincingly stopped by Ilievski and Welsch. On the other hand, Adam Wojcik was literally unstoppable, and hit 17 points during the first 20 minutes with good figures: 2 of 4 field goals, 2 of 4 three pointers and 7 of 7 free throws.
The third quarter was started by the same two starting fives of the beginning of the game, but the Slovenian players were the ones who took advantage of the situation this time. Welsch scored 5 for a 52-46 lead in minute 24, but Peristeri neutralized this deficit with baskets by Andersen only two minutes later (52-52). Dinkins added a three which got Olimpija on the lead for 54-57. The winner was to be decided during the last minutes of the game, and so it was when the game finished 81-74 for the Slovenian.
Thursday, October 11, 2001