Virtus Bologna is making itself a team to look out for in Group C after booking it's second road win in as many weeks, 73-86 against Partizan in Belgrade on Thursday. The victory lifted Virtus to a 2-1 record, tied for second behind undefeated CSKA Moscow, while Partizan fell to 0-3 and remains at the end of the table. The arrival two days earlier of Derrick Dial proved definitive to the success of the visitors. Not long after landing in Bologna and travelling directly to Belgrade, Dial lit up the night with 27 points and 7 rebounds. Charlie Bell added 21 for the winners and Alesandro Frosini 11. On the other side Milos Vujanic scored 36 points for Partizan while Dusan Kecman and Djuro Ostojic added 11 each.
Partizan started the game without injured starting center Nenad Krstic, but its inside defense wasn't the problem early. Rather, Virtus finished almost all of it's attackss with three points instead of two or one. Bell, David Brkic and another new arrival, German Scarone, hit one three-point shot each and Frosini added a two-plus-one play. Virtus would finish the first quarter 4-for-4 from downtown, while Partizan was just the opposite, missing a lot of open shoot. It was such an offensive blast that after 9 minutes, Virtus led by 13-29 and Dial hadn't even warmed up. The second quarter would belong to him, however. He stole 2 balls and dunked them on fastbreaks, added 2 tripples and finished the second quarter with 16 points. Virtus ended first half shooting 5-for-7 from behind the arc, Partizan 1-for-7. Virtus also made 62% of its two-pointers to just 39% for Partizan. It wasno wonder, then, that the visitors were ahead 27-53 shortly before the half and the game seemed already to be decided.
The second half came and Partizan started playing real defense. Virtus was a little bit lax after that comfortable 24-point lead at the end of the first half. Vujanic attacked furiosly and Partizan made a 13-3 run after 7 minutes. Virtus didn't actually hit its first field goal for more than 5 minutes, when Antoine Rigaudeau put an end to the drought. The third period ended 20-10 in favor of Partizan, and the crowd of 5,112 were on their feet. They were rewarded in the first 3 minutes of the final quarter as Partizan made one more run, 11-3, and the scoreboard read 60-68, not what a home team would normally want to see so late in the game, but tonight something of miracle. Then, however, Blagota Sekulic fouled out and Ostojic missed 6 free throws. Most important of all, Dial was back on court and he restored the 10-point advantage to put the visitors right back on teh winning road. Partizan desperately needed three-point bombs, but it finished the game with 3-for-12 on shots from the perimeter. Virtus shot 8-15 on threes. That fact, together with Dial's inspired first performance, were the deciding factors in the road win for Virtus.
Thursday, October 24, 2002