| It was lucky number 13 for Partizan Belgrade as the Serbian champs came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Real Madrid 81-77 for the first time in club history on Wednesday night at Pionir Arena. All five starters scored in double figures as head coach Dusko Vujosevic’s men held on with a gritty performance that ended a run of 12 straight losses to Madrid. Parizan improved to 1-1 in Group D and will host Armani jeans Milano in the Serbian capital next week. Madrid dropped to 1-1 and will host Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow next week. Partizan took a big early lead as Milenko Tepic and Aleksandar Rasic heated up in the first quarter and remained on top 44-38 at halftime. Quinton Hosley scored 7 straight points in a 0-13 third-quarter run as Madrid took its first lead. However Rasic, Novica Velickovic and Cedomir Vitkovac led Partizan back to tie it and set up a thrilling fourth quarter. Strong defense and clutch triples from Tepic and Rasic put Partizan back on top, but the game would remain close till the end. In the last minute, the hosts stayed focused and Hosley committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Uros Tripkovic that allowed Partizan’s fans to celebrate early. Rasic finished with 18 points, Tepic scored 16 and dished 5 assists, Velickovic added 13 points, Stephane Lasme 12 and Vitkovac 10. Sergio Llull came off the bench to pace Madrid with 19, Hosley recorded 14 points and 8 rebounds, Felipe Reyes added 11 points and Lazaros Papadopoulos had 10 for the visitors, who shot 2 for 12 from downtown.
Slavko Vranes established his defensive presence with an early block of Papadopoulos that led to a Lasme basket. But Papadopoulos came back to draw a foul from the Partizan center and even the scoring from the line. Vitkovac displayed his talents with a triple and then a baseline move, while on the other end Hosley produced a pair of baskets with some nice athletic moves. A pull-up jumper by Rasic and a minute later a Tepc triple after a Vranes offensive rebound gave the hosts a 14-6 advantage. Real Madrid head coach Joan Plaza called a timeout to talk things over, but it didn’t change much as Tepic banged in another three to give Partizan a double-digit lead. An Axel Hervelle free throw and a Raul Lopez basket helped wake the visitors up before Tepic made his presence felt with another basket. Llull came off the bench and hit twice for Madrid before Lasme picked up a loose ball and darted in for a slam that gave Partizan a 21-13 lead after 10 minutes.
Reyes and Jeremiah Massey ignited Madrid at the onset of the second period, but patience and good passing slowed things down for Partizan. A pair of Rasic free throws and a Velckovic three-pointer kept the hosts in control. Velckovic then dished to Zarko Rakocevic as Partizan went up 28-19. Rasic fired in another three from the top of the key to get the home fans going as Madrid took another timeout. Free throws by Llull and a Massey basket were good signs for Real, however Velickovic started to dominate the offensive glass, reaping 2 baskets and 2 free throws off others’ misses. Pepe Sanchez fed Llull for a slam and then a Hosley steal led to a Llull layup as Madrid cut the gap to 37-32. Tepic sliced the Madrid defense for a basket before Papadopoulos dropped in a hook shot. Another Rasic three got the home fans singing and then he set Rakocevic up for a slam before Papadopoulos ended the half with the hosts on top 44-38.
Tepic opened the second-half scoring from the free-throw line, but Hosley bettered him at the other end with a basket-plus-foul, which sent Vitkovac to the bench with 4 fouls. Hosley was just getting started. He drew an foul on the offensive glass and hit 2 free throws and then stole the ball and threw down a windmill slam to tie the game at 45-45. A Reyes hook gave Madrid its first lead of the game, leading to a Partizan timeout. But that didn’t solve the suddenly ice-cold Belgrade attack, which remained scoreless for four minutes before Lasme dunked in transition. During that time, Louis Bullock heated up and eventually put Madrid up 47-55. Rasic battled for a basket and then 2 free throws to keep the hosts in the game. Velickovic converted another offensive rebound to a score and then Vitkovac scored on the break to cap an 8-0 charge that tied the game at 55-55. Madrid used a timeout to regroup after which Papadopoulos scored inside, but a Tripkovic jumper kept it tied. Llull in transition gave Madrid a slim 57-59 lead heading into the fourth period.
Llull came through with a steal and slam, but Partizan continued to fight hard on both ends. A big block by Vranes on Axel Hervelle was followed by a three-chance attack that turned into a three-point play for Vitkovac as Partizan stayed within 1. Tepic then fired in a long three to make it 65-63 only to see Llull do the same and restore the lead to Madrid. Rasic stepped up and hit another three as the hosts and the crowd regained their confidence. Lasme stretched the lead to 70-66 from the line midway through the period. The momentum remained with the hosts as Lasme hit a circus shot. Vitkovac fouled out with four minutes remaining, but the Partizan defense remained strong and denied Madrid. Reyes drew a foul and made 2 from the line to get his within 3 before Tripkovic and Bullock traded baskets making it 74-71 with less than two minutes to go. Tepic hit a clutch three and Rasic poked his hand in for a big steal that ignited the crowd. However a turnover resulted in another fast-break basket by Llull that kept Madrid alive. Bullock drew a foul, but missed a rare free throw. Forced to foul, Hosley wrapped Tripkovic up and was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, practically gifting the game to Partizan. Free throws by Tripkovic and then Velickovic made it 81-74 with 20 seconds to go as the home fans started to celebrate their first win ever over Real Madrid.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008