Krka Novo Mesto has solidified its standing as one of the surprises of the Euroleague this season and kept itself alive in Group C with a stunning 73-88 road win Thursday at Skipper Bologna. The victory lifts Krka into a tie at 4-6 with Skipper, both teams just a victory behind fourth-place Pau-Orthez. Sensational young guard Jaka Lakovic again had everything to do with the upset and with giving new head coach Neven Spahija a victory in his debut with Krka. He scored 20 points in the first half while Krka was building the upset and finished with a floor-high 27. Bennett Davison came up big with 18 from the wing and Mate Skelin added 15 underneath. Gregor Fucka was Skipper's top gun again with 24 points and center Zoran Savic followed him with 10, but the under-the-weather backcourt for the home team had its problems throughout the game. Every point counted for Krka, too, because in the event of a tie, the Slovenians now own the point advantage over Skipper, who only won by six in their first meeting at Novo Mesto
Krka started out stunning Skipper thanks to Lakovic, who had 5 points, 2 boards and 2 steals within minutes as his team went ahead 0-7. When Skelin started posting up and Boris Gnjidic added a triple, the lead lengthened to 3-12 for Krka. With guards Gianluca Basile and Andrea Meneghin down with fevers, Skipper played a big lineup with Fucka, Giacomo Galanda and Vasco Evtimov. But coach Matteo Boniciolli soon called Basile on court. A couple baskets by Fucka cut into the gap, but Davison on an assist by Lakovic sunk a great alley oop dunk for the 7-17 lead. Skipper found good points with Fucka, but Lakovic sunk a triple and then suddenly stole from Basile for an 11-24 lead. Lakovic was already in double figure after 6 minutes, 20 seconds, but a Milic three-point play, steal and no-look assist to Zoran Savic completed a Skipper rally to within 19-26 with two minutes to go. But a great dunk by Davison at the buzzer gave the Slovenian team a 21-30 edge after 10 minutes.
New Krka guard James Brewer stepped on court for Krka in the second quarter toput more defensive pressure on Basile. Savic came up with two great plays, a triple and an offensive foul drawn on Skelin. That and four points by Anthony Goldwire marked a Skipper surge to within 31-33. Skipper's players began looking for inside mismatches and post-ups instead of playing only on the perimeter. Emilio Kovacic hit a hook shot that tied the game, but then got back-to-back fouls, a personal and a technical, which Lakovic used to drain four straight foul shots. Milic turned it over against the 3-2 zone and Krka found two easy shots from the corner for Davison to pump the lead back to 33-39. Then Krka went into a zone to cut off Skipper's inside scoring and preserve the gap. It was 43-50 for the visitors at the half, with Lakovic already having compiled great numbers: 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Both fever victims, Basile and Meneghin, came on for Skipper in the third quarter, and Basile opened the scoring. But Krka came up with 5 points from Brewer and Dragisa Drobnjak to boost the lead to 10, at 47-57. Boniciolli tried to shorten his team with four small players and Savic. Milic scored four points off two steals to get Skipper back into the game with 5' to go in the third quarter at 55-61. Krka went back into the zone and ran away once again (62-70) thanks to a Gnjidic triple. Meneghin hit a triple from the corner then a technical foul shot gave the home team hope until Lakovic hit a shot at the buzzer for a 66-72 Krka edge after 30 minutes.
Thursday, January 10, 2002