Scavolini has put itself as close as can be to the Top 16 by defeating direct rival Partizan of Belgrade 98-86 in Group D on Wednesday . The home team improved its record to 8-5, good enough for a share of second place in Group D, but still has the possibility of coming up short on tiebreakers if it does not win at last-place Oostende in the regular season finale. Meanwhile Partizan (6-7) now knows that its chances of advancing to the Top 16 rest on a final game against Asvel and the hopes for a three-way tie in fourth place. Despite the loss, the team from Belgrade can be happy with the outstanding performances of two of its bright young players. Milos Vujanic bagged 27 points and center Nenad Krstic who posted 16 and were the only two players from Partizan in double figures. That was not enough, however, to put a scare into Scavolini, which had five players in double figures. Andrea Pecile led the way with 18, while right behind him was DeMarco Johnson with 17, Larry Middleton and Marko Tusek each with 16, and Silvio Gigena with 14.
Partizan started the game strong with a 0-5 run led by Nenad Canak's three-pointer. But right after Melvin Booker committed his second foul less than three minutes into the period, Andrea Pecile came out on the floor and scored immediately to make it 6-7. Two straight baskets by Larry Middleton obliged coach Vujosevic to call a timeout and change Stanojevic with Nenad Krstic. The first three-pointer by Vlado Scepanovic tied the game at 10-10. The game was close, and Scavolini worked well on defense and used a balanced offense, going both inside and outside while Partizan earned many of their points from the stripe. The period ended at 24-20 in favor of the home team while Demarco Johnson was the period's best scorer, bagging 10 points.
Scavolini's defense tightened up on Scepanovic and drew an offensive foul that jump-started the home team to take a 32-23 advantage thanks to an offensive rebound and put back by Michele Maggioli. Partizan's zone defense suffered under the boards and its offense shot poorly which enabled Scavolini to earn its biggest advantage, 37-25. The ability of the young and talented point guard Milos Vujanic to both score and dish out assists was the only real threat to Scavolini's lead. The problem for Scavolini were the fouls as Maggioli already had four, and both Booker and Johnson had three each with still four minutes to go in the second period. Partizan also was set back with the loss of its big man Duro Ostojic due to a back injury . The period ended 54-42, with Demarco Johnson and Andrea Pecile bagging 12 points each for Scavolini and Milos Vujanic posting 14 and the 19 year old center Nenad Krstic adding 9 for Partizan.
The third period started with tougher defense and less acurate shooting. Stanojevic fouled out after just three and a half minutes and Scavolini quickly took advantage with three open long distance shots by Larry Middleton, Brad Traina and Marko Tusek to extend their lead 66-49 halfway through the quarter. Scavolini continued to run and pulled away by 20 points on a three-pointer by Brad Traina to make it 75-55. Partizan scored two more baskets before the buzzer and the period ended 77-59.
Partizan used everything in its arsenal at the beginning of the period to mount a comeback. They achieved mild success as they outscored the Italians 3-10 to cut the lead to just 82-70, but an immediate three-point play by Demarco Johnson distanced the two teams once again. Thanks to Vujanic's scoring, Partizan once again cut into the lead to get within ten, 85-75, but Scavolini's experienced players like Larry Middleton knew what to do in the clutch and controlled the game till the end.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Romano Petitti, Pesaro