Zeleznik of Yugoslavia roared into the next round of the ULEB Cup and retained co-leadership in Group with a tense 78-76 home win over visiting Eurocellulari Roseto of Italy on Tuesday. Big man Ognjen Askrabic played 39 minutes and amassed 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks to lead the winners. Veselin Petrovic topped him in minutes, with 40, and added 16 points and 4 assists. Goran Nikolic put up 15 points and Ivan Zoroski 11 for the winners. Zeleznkis is now 6-1, even with Pamesa Valencia, who aslo qualified to the next round. Roseto tumbled to 3-4 and a third-place tie with Pivovarna Lasko.
Each team came to the court without some of the key players. Marko Milic didn't come to Belgrade due to the fever and Reggie Freeman and Vanja Plisnic were sitting on the Zeleznik bench with light injuries.Zeleznik opened the match with 6 points by Goran Nikolic, but Roseto answered with offensive rebounds and came to lead 13-14 a couple minutes before the end of the first period. In that moment, top scorer Miroslav Radosevic of Roseto was on the floor with back injurie and later he went to the locker room. At the very begining of the second period Roseto, tied the score 21-21 and a few minutes later led by 27-28, but Zeleznik quickly jumped back in front, 36-28, with a 9-0 run. The difference reached double digits soon and remained that way until the first half ended 45-35. In the first 20 minutes, Zeleznik had shot an amazing 93 percent for two-pointers (13 for 14), but Roseto rebounded better, especially on offense.
Roseto started the second half with a zone defence that triggered a 2-10 run to get the guest as close as 49-48. But Zeleznik answered just in time, and with volume in the form of 3 consecutive triples, 2 of them fired by Petrovic on the 24-second possession buzzer. Then Zeleznik led by 60-50 it seemed that the story was over. But Jose Manuel Moltedo didn't think so and he started his bomb-show. Zeleznik had so much trouble with Roseto zone defence, there were no ideas in attack and 3 minutes before the final buzzer, Roseto miraculously had the lead again, 71-73. Ognjen Askrabic made one tripple, and Freeman, who entered the game in the second half, stole the ball that led to Zoroski free throw that won it by two and sent Zeleznik to the next round.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002