With a pumped-up crowd behind it all night, Alba rejoined the battle in Group C by putting down visiting Tau Ceramica 95-89 in Berlin on Wednesday. Alba raised its record to 1-3, within a victory of Tau, which fell to 2-2. Vladimir Petrovic emerged as the go-to guy for the winners, making one big basket after another on his way to 28 points and 9 rebounds on the night. Alba's balanced attack included 21 points from DeJuan Collins and 13 each from Marko Pesic and Jovo Stanojevic. Tau's problems were illustrated by the fact that the free throw streak of scoring leader Arvydas Macijauskas was broken after 94 consecutive shots made this season, and he didn't miss just one, but three. Andres Nocioni led Tau with 24 points in 25 minutes, but his foul trouble ended the game early for him. Macijauskas added 22 points, Dejan Koturovic 12 and Kornel David 10.
Both teams open the game with a quick, up-and-down and almost error-free basketball, at least on offense, in a race to a 10-10 tie. Tightening the defense a little, Tau took advantage of Alba's first mistakes to earn a first lead, 14-18, after quick drives to the basket by Macijauskas. Big men Stanojevic for Alba and Koturovic for Alba scored their inside points, then Vladimer Petrovic hit Alba's first three-pointers for 19-20. Macijauskas was missing his shots from outside, but Alba could not stop Tau's fastbreaks with him and Nocioni, which brought the guests ahead again by 7 points, 19-26. Tau finished the quarter with a 21-28 lead and Macijauskas already up to 10 points, while Petrovic had 9 so far for Alba.
Alba reserves Mithat Demirel and Szymon Szweczyk introduced themselves with 3 points each in the second quarter and DeJuan Collins added a basket for an 8-0 run that put the hosts ahead 29-28. Tau got a basket back, but at 29-30, a little history was completed when Macijauskas went to the free throw line and did something he had not done in weeks: He missed. It was his fourth free throw of the night and he had made his previous 28 consecutively in the Euroleague, a total of 94 in a row counting is Spanish League foul shots, too. That series had come to an end, but now Nocioni heated up for Tau: Alba's defense couldn't stop his quick drives to the basket, which put the visitors up 36-42. Alba's defense looked better after a timeout, and Petrovic took advantage to brings the Berliners back by not only scoring 6 points within 3 minutes, but also by drawing Nocioni's third and fourth fouls. After a steal by Teo Ozturk, Demirel scored the last basket of the half and Alba led 48-46. Petrovic and Nocioni led their teams then with 15 points each.
Starting the second half with Nocioni and Koturovic on the bench, Tau kept struggling inside. John Best, Petrovic and Marko Pesic, the latter with a three-pointer, pushed Alba ahead 55-48, before Sergi Vidal answered with his own triple for Tau. Dusan Jelic then got the visitors a three-point-play inside that drew the fourth foul of Stanojevic. Petrovic kept Alba in front with a three-point-play for 58-53 as the game was fully changed now from a running game to a battle of defensive strategy, with a lot of fighting under the baskets and many free throws. Macijauskas misses another free throw, but Tau used more points by Jelic to crawl back within 62-61. Nocioni returned to the court, but Szewzcyk and Collins made sure that Alba maintained the lead, 65-63, after 30 minutes.
Alba's team defense kept on limiting Macijauskas from getting started, so Nocioni took hold for Tau and put in his first 5 points of the second half for a 69-70 visitors' lead. Again, however, Petrovic answered in the form of a three-pointer, and soon Stanojevic was drawing the fifth and final foul on Nocioni. Stanojevic made only 1 of 2 free throws, but Alba rebounded the miss and Collins scored for 75-72. As Tau struggled to score anything, Stanojevic, Petrovic and Pesic brought Alba ahead 81-74. Macijauskas drew Stanojevic's fifth foul, but missed yet another free throw, as did Dejan Koturovic to follow him. Those were answered with a dunk by Szewczyk and a huge triple by Petrovic that made it 87-76 with only 2 minutes to go. Tau tried to stop the clock with fouls, but Collins and Pesic hit their free-throws to seal the 95-89 victory and put the Germans in the Group C win column.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Horst Schneider, Berlin