Adecco Estudiants of Spain raised its own profile in Group C and denied Krka Novo Mesto a pass to the next round with a hard-fought 88-79 victory in Madrid on Tuesday. The victory lifted Adecco Estudiantes to 4-3 in the standings, good for sole possession of third place with three games to play. Krka fell to 5-2 but retained a share of first place because co-leader RheinEnergie Cologna had lost earlier to last-place Darussafaka. Felipe Reyes was once again the big gun for the winners with 16 points, but he was matched by swingman Hernan Jasen and helped all around the court. Nikola Loncar added 15 points, Bryan Saliier 14 and Nacho Azofra 11 for Estudiates. For Krka, Jaime Arnold poured in a floor-high 21 points, Aleksandar Capin 17, Slavko Duscak 14 and Marton Bader 12.
Krka took the floor looking to deliver an early knockout punch as Bader scored 8 consecutive points, including 2 triples, put the visitors ahead. The Krka defense held Estudiantes 6 whole minutes without a basket, but when the first one came, a three-pointer by Azofra, there had been enough foul shots before it that the hosts could hang within 15-19 at the end of one quarter. Estudiantes took its first lead with a 5-0 run to start the second quarter as big German Gabriel started scoring. But at the same time, Arnold was warming up for Krka. His inside-outside abilities were seen in a 1-8 reaction that restored Krka to the lead at 21-27. The counterpunching had begun, and here came a big one by the hosts, courtesy of Jasen. His 11 points in a row, again with 2 triples thrown in, sparked a 17-1 Estudiantes run that sent the hosts up 38-28. Now Capin answered for Krka with his own pair of three-pointers, pulling the guests to within 38-34 at the break.
Close the two teams would stay throughout the third quarter, but the half had served to rouse Reyes and Loncar, whos scoring would come in handy at the end. For now, however, Krka was happy to retake the lead at with a 6-0 run to 50-55 behind a dunk by Arnold and layups by Duscak and Capin. Estudiantes had the answer again, with a two-minute 9-2 reaction that gave a 58-57 edge to the locals after 30 minutes. If that made it seem that Krka had the momentum, a testy fourth quarter would prove otherwise. Two emblematic players of these teams, Andres Jimenez of Estudiantes and Dragisa Drobjnak of Krka, were thrown out for scuffling before Estudiantes was able to take over and sea the win with Loncar and Reyes coming up big from outside and inside the paint.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002