Pamesa finished third in the Group C standings by beating group champion Efes Pilsen 107-103 in overtime at home in Valencia on Wednesday night. Pamesa needed an overtime to win and finish the regular season with a 9-5 record and will enter the Top 16 draw in Level 2 as one of the two best-ranked third. Meanwhile, Efes is one of the top-seeded teams as Group C champion. Antoine Rigaudeau led the winners with 23 points, including two three-pointers in the final minute of regulation which sent the game to overtime. Alejandro Montecchia added 20 on 4 of 7 three-pointers and 6 of 6 free throws, Dejan Tomasevic had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, also dishing 6 assists, while Dimos Dikoudis chipped in 11 for Pamesa. Ender Arslan led Efes with an outstanding double-double, 25 points and 11 assists. Ermal Kuqo had 19 points, Goran Nikolic 13, Onan Onan and Trajan Langdon each had 12 points while Kaya Peker added 10 for the guests.
Pamesa started the game at full speed, as Tomasevic made a behind-the-back pass to Rigaudeau, which ignited an 11-5 opening run in which Tomasevic had 5 points while Oberto added a pair baskets in the low post. Pamesa dominated the game due to a fluid offense highlighted by the passing game between Tomasevic and Oberto. Even when Arslan drilled a three-pointer and Kuqo added a jump hook, Pamesa was on fire and not about to cool down. A fastbreak layup and backdoor bucket by Jose Antonio Paraiso gave Pamesa a 19-10 lead after 4 minutes. Efes called timeout, as Pamesa had connected on all 8 of its shots so far, but nothing worked for the visitors. Pamesa seemed touched by fortune as Montecchia scored a triple among 7 points and Tomasevic added 4 more while Rigaudeau drilled a mid-range jumper. Even when Kuqo powered Efes with 10 points, Pamesa led 32-20 after what was a perfect first quarter for the hosts: 11 of 11 two-pointers, 1 of 1 threes and 7 of 7 free throws.
Then, to make matters worse for the visitors, Efes went scoreless in the opening 3 minutes of the second quarter. Pamesa used a 7-0 run highlighted by Paraiso's tip-in and a put-back by Dimos Dikoudis to extend its lead to 39-20. The hosts was now excelling in the defensive end, as the second unit provided intensity and aggressiveness, but Pamesa stopped getting easy baskets once Efes switched to a zone defense. Langdon, who had been scoreless until then, stepped up for Efes with 4 quick points, igniting a 1-12 run in which Kuqo added another jump hook and Alper Yilmaz 5 points to cut Pamesa's lead to 40-36 with 3 minutes to go. Pamesa stayed out of trouble once Federico Kammerichs and Asier Garcia combined for 12 points to extend the hosts' lead to 52-42 at halftime.
Efes got back in the game early in the third quarter, as three-pointers by Arslan and Yilmaz made it a five-point game at 58-53. Efes used a small lineup, with Kuqo as its only center, but Yilmaz had troubles going one-on-one against a much taller Tomasevic. Pamesa took advantage of this mismatch, and Rigaudeau stepped up with 5 points while Oberto added a turnaround jumper to extend the hosts' lead back to double digits at 66-55. It didn't last long, as Efes carrying on bombing Pamesa from downtown, and back-to-back threes by Arslan and Omer Onan brought the guests within 66-61. The guests continued to rally, and used a 0-7 run in which Goran Nikolic scored 4 points and Arslan drilled his fourth three-pointer of the quarter, enough to get Efes its first lead of the game, even though an Asier Garcia free throw tied it for Pamesa, 71-71, after 30 minutes.
Pamesa struggled to score early in the final period, while Nikolic and Peker gave Efes a 71-75 lead with 8 minutes to go. Pedro Llompart stepped up with 2 layups in penetration for Pamesa, but Langdon drilled a back-to-back mid-range jumpers to keep Efes on top, 77-83. Both teams switched to zone defense, but Efes looked for an on-fire Nikolic, who made consecutive six-meter jumpers for an 80-87 lead with 2 minutes to go. It was do-or-die time for Pamesa, and Montecchia did it with back-to-back three-pointers. Who else but Arslan answered from downtown, however, and everything seemed lost for the hosts once Yilmaz drilled 2 free throws to give Efes an 88-92 lead with 53 seconds to go. But Rigaudeau had time to drill 2 three-pointers of his own, and when he missed another at the buzzer, the game went into overtime, 94-94.
Pamesa already knew the other results, and needed a win to be third. The hosts went on an 8-1 opening run highlighted by a new three-pointer from Montecchia and a basket by Dikoudis. Pamesa had a 102-95 leadwith 3 minutes to go. Kuqo stepped up for Efes, but Rigaudeau drilled a long two-pointers to seal the win at 105-98 with a minute to go. Arslan fouled out and received a big ovation from from the local fans, who finally saw its team clinch the third spot in Group C in a 107-103 thriller.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004