2007-08PlayoffsGame 2
April 03, 2008 CET: 20:00
Local time: 20:00 PIONIR
Novica Velickovic - Partizan Igokea Backed by what seemed like a whole country packed into Pionir Arena, Partizan Igokea sent its best-of-three quarterfinal playoff series to the limit when it blasted visiting Tau Ceramica 76-55 in Game 2 at home in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday. Now tied 1-1, the series goes back to Vitoria, Spain for a do-or-die third game on Tau's court next Thursday. Partizan's defense and resiliency were the main factors. The defense harassed Tau's shooters all night, inside and out, while Partizan also ruled the backboards with a 37-28 rebounding advantage. And when Tau got close a couple times in the second half, Partizan's young guns Nikola Pekovic and Novica Velickovic shut the door. Pekovic finished with 19 points for the winners, many in clutch situations. Velickovic shined with a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Uros Tripkovic added 14 points and Milenko Tepic 11 for the winners, who needed only 9 points from Milt Palacio, who received his March MVP award before the game. Only Igor Rakocevic, with 15 points, was able to score in double figures for Tau, which was held to 37.8% two-point and 31.5% three-point shooting.

Tripkovic got Partizan started before the hosts went inside twice to Pekovic to take a 6-2 advantage. An offensive rebound soon let Rakocevic bomb from downtown, however, for Tau's first lead, 6-7. Tepic answered from the same distance for the hosts, but after Pete Mickeal tied for Tau, Partizan surged ahead for its first big advantage. Pekovic started it, while Velickovic and Palacio followed with big triples that opened a 17-9 gap and forced a Tau timeout. It didn't help much. After Mickeal's next shot rolled out, Velickovic hit a fastbreak layup before Tepic posted up, scored and go the free throw with it as the lead ballooned to 22-9. Rakocevic and Mickeal combined for Tau to lower the difference to 25-15 after 10 minutes.

Igor Rakocevic - Tau CeramicaRakocevic and Tripkovic traded baskets to open the second quarter. Mickeal got to the line again, but Tripkovic took a kickout from Pekovic and nailed an open triple at 30-19. A high-wire up-and-down exchange ended with Tepic scoring on the break and forcing another Tau timeout. McDonald and James Singleton steadied the guests with baskets inside, although in between, Palacio backed down Pablo Prigioni for his own. Both defenses otherwise forced difficult shots until Simas Jasaitis dunked on the break and Mirza Teletovic drove for another basket, lowering the difference to single digits again, 34-27. After a timeout, Partizan got a basket back, but Prigioni found Jasaitis with a killer pass for a triple before the buzzer that left a 36-31 score at halftime.

Tau kept inching closer after the half as Rakocevic hit a basket and Teletovic drilled from downtown to make it 38-36. Pekovic kept the hosts safe with a hook shot and Velickovic added a transition basket . Rakocevic made 1 of 2 free throws, but Tau left Velickovic alone and he buried a triple at 45-37. While Tau's defense stalled the hosts, Tiago Splitter and Rakocevic combined for 6 points that again got the visitors on the brink of the lead at 45-43. But to the rescue came Tepic and Pekovic, who combined on 5 straight points to save Partizan again at 49-43. Tau struck back quickly as Prigioni fed Teletovic for a layup, stole and swung the ball to Jasaitis for a corner triple to make it 49-48. But Partizan was just as aggressive, feeding Pekovic for an easy basket while Palacio drove to score and hit the bonus free throw to end the quarter at 54-48.

Nikola Pekovic - Partizan IgokeaPartizan started the final quarter as it does most, working the ball to Pekovic for another inside basket. But it was Kecman measuring a shot perfectly from downtown a couple minutes later that brought the house down with a new double-digit lead, 59-48. McDonald got two back at the line, but Tepic then stripped Rakocevic and fed Velickovic on the break. After a timeout, Jasaitis settled Tau with a new triple at 61-50, but Tripkovic put back a Partizan miss as the lead rose to 13 points with 5 minutes left. When Velickovic appeared at the top of the circle and buried another triple, it was 66-50 and the crowd had seen all it needed to. Partizan knew the series wasn't over, however, and continued playing with full energy, going up by 21 points, 73-52, on another Pekovic basket in the next-to-last minute. Kecman added a three-point play after that and Planinic hit a triple at the buzzer as plans were being made for the return to Vitoria for Game 3.

Thursday, April 3, 2008
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Referees: VOREADIS, LAZAROS (GRE), ANKARALI, RECEP (TUR), RYZHYK, BORYS (UKR)
Attendance: 7123
By Quarter1234
Partizan Igokea25111822
Tau Ceramica1516177
End of Quarter1234
Partizan Igokea25365476
Tau Ceramica15314855
Partizan Igokea
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 PALACIO, MILT 32:47 9 2/5 1/5 2/3       4 1 2     2 2 4
5 TEPIC, MILENKO 26:41 11 3/3 1/2 2/3   3 3 3 1       2 4 18
7 KECMAN, DUSAN 24:13 6 1/5 1/1 1/1   4 4 2 1 1     3 2 7
10 BOROVNJAK, DEJAN 1:16         1 1 2             1 3
11 TRIPKOVIC, UROS 17:58 14 3/4 2/7 2/2 1 1 2 1 2     1 2 1 11
12 VELICKOVIC, NOVICA 34:03 17 4/9 3/5   3 9 12 4   1     2 1 24
14 PEKOVIC, NIKOLA 24:51 19 8/12   3/6 2 3 5 2   1 1   4 7 22
15 VITKOVAC, CEDOMIR 17:42   0/4     1 5 6 1       1 2 1 1
17 DJURKOVIC, MARKO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
20 BOZIC, PETAR 5:20   0/1                   1   1 -1
21 MILOSEVIC, STRAHINJA 0:58                              
33 VRANES, SLAVKO 14:11           3 3     1 1   2   1
Team                     1         -1
Totals 200:00 76 21/43 8/20 10/15 8 29 37 17 5 7 2 3 19 20 89
        48.8% 40% 66.7%
Head coach: VUJOSEVIC, DUSKO
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
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 20:45     0/5     3 3 5 3 1     3   2
6 GARCIA, ANDER DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 28:22 15 3/5 2/5 3/4   2 2 1   2 1 1 2 5 13
9 VIDAL, SERGI 11:38 1 0/2   1/2       3           3 4
10 PLANINIC, ZORAN 19:15 5 1/6 1/2   1 3 4 3   2     1 2 5
11 FERNANDEZ, LUCHO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 29:19 9 3/5 1/3     3 3     1     1   6
13 JASAITIS, SIMAS 21:32 8 1/2 2/2     1 1           2 1 7
15 SINGLETON, JAMES 20:49 2 1/3 0/1     6 6       1   4 1 3
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 13:26 3 1/3   1/2 1 2 3 1   1 1 1 4 5 4
33 MICKEAL, PETE 18:28 8 3/6 0/1 2/2 1 2 3   1 1       1 8
45 MCDONALD, WILL 16:26 4 1/5   2/2   3 3     1     3 1  
Team                   1           1
Totals 200:00 55 14/37 6/19 9/12 3 25 28 13 5 9 3 2 20 19 53
        37.8% 31.6% 75%
Head coach: SPAHIJA, NEVEN

Head Coaches

VUJOSEVIC, DUSKO
Partizan Igokea
"We analyzed Game 1 and made our game better. First of all, we played with much more intensity. Tonight's was an outstanding basketball performance. Tau is a real big team and club, too. I am happy tonight because we played so well. We made a big success just by reaching Top 16 and there were no pressure on us. Now the pressure is on Tau's players before the third game. I believe it is going to be an open game in Vitoria. Tau is favored but we have chances."
SPAHIJA, NEVEN
Tau Ceramica
"Congratulation to Partizan for 40 minutes of continuity. There were really great in the final period. We finished our game in minute 35. We played pretty good defense but we failed on offense. But this is a playoff series. I have played and coached many before. There is no reason to cry after a loss. We have to prepare for the game in Vitoria. That home game is big advantage to us."

Players

PEKOVIC, NIKOLA
Partizan Igokea
"Phenomenal game. We are back after we lost the first game. Tonight's win is a motivation factor for us and we shall give 100 percent in Game 3. We made an effort not to repeat mistakes from Game 1 and now we know much more about Tau Ceramica. We shall give our maximum to reach the Final Four."
RAKOCEVIC, IGOR
Tau Ceramica
"I think that the final margin is not realistic. Partizan deserved to win. We are able to play much much better than tonight. The key was our bad opening. We played a very bad first period and after that we lost our strength to get back in the game. But I am optimistic before Game 3. The pressure is on us, but it will not be a decisive factor."
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