2005-06PlayoffsGame 3
April 12, 2006 CET: 20:45
Local time: 20:45 OAKA
Tau Ceramica celebrates in Athens - EB05

Tau Ceramica is back in the Final Four!

Tau will fight for the Euroleague title again after an epic 71-74 victory over host Panathinaikos on Wednesday in front of a sellout crowd of 18,000 fans in Athens, Greece. Tau won the best-of-three series 2-1 with just the second road win in this year's Quarterfinals Playoffs round and in that way became the second team to reach the Final Four, joining CSKA. In Prague, Tau will face the quarterfinals winner between Maccabi and Olympiacos. Serkan Erdogan led the winners with 24 points. He had 13 in the second quarter to keep Tau ahead, 36-42, at halftime, and then hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final 50 seconds to seal the upset. Pablo Prigioni had 12 points, including a critical five-meter jumper with 17.6 seconds to go. Casey Jacobsen also had 12 points, Tiago Splitter added 11 while Luis Scola and Kornel David each grabbed 11 rebounds for Tau. Vassilis Spanoulis had 16 points, Mike Batiste added 14 while Jaka Lakovic and Fragiskos Alvertis each had 12 for the Greens, who trailed 14-26 early in the second quarter but rallied to get a 53-52 edge after 30 minutes. It happened to be their last lead of the game, as three-pointers by Travis Hansen, Jacobsen and Prigioni allowed Tau to keep a slim lead throughout the final period. Panathinaikos kept its chances alive until the final buzzer, when Alvertis missed an off-balance three-point shot that would have sent the game to overtime.

Panathinaikos got off to a good start thanks to Kostas Tsartsaris, who scored 4 quick points taking Scola one-on-one. Hansen was not equally effective for Tau, as he missed back-to-back jumpers inside and beyond the arc. Nothing changed for a while, however, as the hosts came up empty in several possessions. Three-pointers by Jacobsen and Prigioni ignited a 0-8 run which forced Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic to call the first timeout of the game. Lakovic finally broke the ice for the Greens with a confident jumper and a pair of free throws, yet Scola’s passionate play kept Tau in front, 8-11, after 6 minutes. Dejan Tomasevic and Alvertis entered the game while David replaced Scola. Panathinaikos kept struggling on defense, allowing consecutive layups from Prigioni and Jacobsen, enough for Tau to extend its lead to 9-15. David fired in a jumper but Spanoulis bettered him with a triple that brought the crowd to its feet. Still, the Greens could not get closer, however, as free throws by Prigioni and a layup by Erdogan allowed Tau to keep a 14-21 margin after 10 minutes.

Erdogan came out on fire in the second quarter and added 5 quick points on a big triple and free throws, widening the gap to double digits, 14-26. Alvertis hit one from the top of the key as Panathinaikos, backed by its boisterous crowd, was not willing to give up that easily. Spanoulis rescued the Greens with back-to-back layups, as Tau switched to zone defense. Spanoulis kept pacing Panathinaikos but Erdogan buried a huge triple in front of his defender, then followed it with a layup to keep Tau ahead, 25-33. Erdogan already had 12 points coming off the bench. Alvertis nailed his second three-pointer, igniting a 6-0 run that Tomasevic capped with a layup to cut the Tau lead to 31-33 after 16 minutes. The hosts chose to abandon the zone defense, as the game had turned into a physical battle in which no team was willing to surrender. Tau kept dominating the boards and when Erdogan drilled another triple, the guests had restored a 34-42 advantage. Mike Batiste hit a jump hook – his first field goal - with 13 seconds left, but Tau was still in front, 36-42, at halftime.

The second half started with Splitter muscling his way inside. Batiste answered with a post move but Splitter had the last say, as he converted a three-point play that boosted the guests' margin to 38-47. Spanoulis scored again and Alvertis fired in a triple that put OAKA's "factory of noise" in full production. The Greens kept playing their trademark intense man-to-man defense, as Tau struggled to score. Both teams were locked in a battle at 45-49 until Batiste stepped up with a put-back basket. Erdogan missed a triple and as the momentum was beginning to shift, Tau coach Velimir Perasovic called a timeout to fix his offense. Dimitris Diamantidis tied it, then Erdogan buried one from downtown but Alvertis knocked down one of his own to make it 52-52 with 90 seconds left in this period. With Erdogan as its only regular contributor, Tau kept having troubles on offense and it wasn't long before the hosts took the lead on a free throw by Tomasevic. Scola missed on yet another jump hook and the third quarter ended with Panathinaikos being in the driver's seat, 53-52.

In the fourth quarter, defenses, nerves and missed shots took over with both teams just minutes away from Prague. Hansen and Jacobsen hit triples that fueled a 3-9 spurt that allowed the guests to restore a 56-61 advantage. Panathinaikos quickly switched to zone defense, but the Greens were now unable to hit their open shots. Finally, Batiste and Spanoulis pulled the hosts within 60-61 with 4 minutes left. Jacobsen scored a couple of free throws and Diamantidis drove to the basket, yet Prigioni came up big and connected from downtown before a jumper by David extended Tau's lead to 62-68. After a much-needed timeout, Panathinaikos stormed back. Diamantidis fed Batiste for a dunk, then Spanoulis unleashed one of his trademark drives for a 66-68 score already in the final minute. Erdogan hit free throws with 49.7 seconds remaining, but Lakovic bettered him with a three-point play to bring the Greens within 69-70. Now the noise level was way off the meter, until Prigioni knocked down a critical buzzer-beating jumper for a 69-72 lead with 17.6 seconds to go. Lakovic hit 1 of 2 free throws but Erdogan made his both attempts to almost seal the win, 70-74, with just 11.9 seconds on the clock. Panathinaikos was not done, however, as Diamantidis drew a foul. With 3.1 seconds left, he scored the first free throw, missed the second on purpose so as to get the offensive rebound. The ball went out of bounds on Erdogan and Panathinaikos was given a last chance to send the game to overtime. But that wasn't meant to be. Panathinaikos inbounded to its perennial leader, Alvertis, who had made 4 of 7 triples until then, but his and his team's chance was way off target. Tau had won a classic to reach Prague.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Danos Tsakalos, Athens
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  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 ALVERTIS, FRAGISKOS 25:15 12 0/2 4/8         2 1       3 3 9
6 PAPANIKOLAOU, DIMITRIOS 0:15                              
7 LAKOVIC, JAKA 32:45 12 4/4 0/3 4/5       3   2 1   4 5 11
8 BATISTE, MIKE 23:15 14 6/7   2/4 1 4 5           1 3 18
9 FEMERLING, PATRICK 4:45 2 1/1             1       1   2
10 HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS 12:00   0/1 0/2             2     2   -7
11 SPANOULIS, VASSILIS 29:00 16 6/8 1/4 1/2   3 3 2 3 3     1 6 20
12 TSARTSARIS, KOSTAS 12:45 4 2/4     2 2 4     2     3 3 4
13 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS 33:00 5 2/4 0/3 1/1 2 4 6 3   2 1   2 2 8
14 SCEPANOVIC, VLADO 13:00     0/1     1 1     1         -1
15 TOMASEVIC, DEJAN 14:00 6 2/6   2/4 1 1 2 1     2 1 1 2 5
16 SAKOTA, DUSAN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           4 1 5               5
Totals 200:00 71 23/37 5/21 10/16 10 16 26 11 5 12 4 1 18 24 74
        62.2% 23.8% 62.5%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SCOLA, LUIS 31:15 3 1/5 0/1 1/2 2 9 11 4 1 4     4 3 8
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 29:45 12 2/2 2/3 2/2       2 3 2     4 1 11
6 HANSEN, TRAVIS 20:00 3 0/2 1/7   2 1 3     1   1 3 1 -6
7 CHALMERS, LIONEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 VIDAL, SERGI 5:15                              
10 UKIC, ROKO 10:15   0/1 0/2     2 2               -1
11 ERDOGAN, SERKAN 25:00 24 3/5 4/6 6/6   2 2     2     2 4 22
14 DROBNJAK, PREDRAG DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
18 DAVID, KORNEL 27:00 9 4/8   1/2 3 8 11 1 1 5 1 1 5 4 11
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 21:45 11 3/6   5/5 3   3 1   1   2 4 4 9
23 JACOBSEN, CASEY 29:45 12 2/3 2/6 2/2       1 1 2     2 1 6
Team           1 1 2               2
Totals 200:00 74 15/32 9/25 17/19 11 23 34 9 6 17 1 4 24 18 62
        46.9% 36% 89.5%
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Head Coaches

"Once again I want to congratulate my players. They worked hard throughout the year and they accomplished a lot even though we didn’t qualify to the Final Four. If that wasn’t the case, our fans would not have applauded us tonight. The main problem we faced was that we played average defense during the first half and allowed Tau to get too many offensive rebounds. Prigioni scored an unbelievable basket down the stretch. That was a decisive moment that possibly sealed the outcome of the game. I reckon that if we would have rested for one more day, we would have been in better shape."
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"The series were fascinating. We defeated Panathinaikos, which is in my opinion the best team in Europe. This means a lot and gives us confidence that we can go all the way. I have to admit that both teams deserved to qualify. Compared to the first game in Athens, we played much better defense. However, the most important thing was that we believed in ourselves. We believed that we could qualify."


"We knew it was going to be a tough game. Unfortunately we struggled in offense. While on Sunday we scored 90 points, today we scored only 71. That’s basketball. The important is to stay together, stay professional, as there are many games left to play. We had a great Euroleague season and the fact that we came so close to travel to Prague is an accomplishment."
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"I am excited about qualifying for the Final Four. This is my first time in the Euroleague, so I am very happy. I appreciate how hard we worked this year in order to get to this point. Panathinaikos is one of the best teams in Europe and beating them on their court is an honor for us. We earned this and we are proud of ourselves. The biggest key tonight was that we committed fewer turnovers and dominated the boards. We didn’t let them get any easy baskets. Tonight we were consistently good at distributing the ball, grabbing the boards and getting open shots. It paid off."
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