Caja Laboral improved to 2-1 in Group C by holding off Union Olimpija 76-82 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Thursday night. Caja Laboral had history in its favor having won the in its last four visits to Tivoli Arena this game proved no different as Dusko Ivanovic's team used a key 0-7 run in the closing moments to earn the victory. Guard Marcelo Huertas led Caja Laboral with 21 points, 4 of them coming in that decisive late run. Brad Oleson seconded him with 12 points and Tiago Splitter scored 11 points and made a clutch block in the closing seconds to ensure the win. Matt Walsh had another great scoring game for the home team. The shooting guard drove fearless to the basket time and time again and in the process racked up 27 points, 20 of which came in the second half. Vladimir Golubovic went 5 for 5 from two-point range for 10 points in addition to playing great defense on the Caja Laboral big men.
Fernando San Emeterio drew first blood for Caja Laboral by getting position in the post for 2 points and adding a free throw off a foul by Walsh to open the game. Jaka Klobucar answered with a short jumper on the baseline. Huertas hit a jump shot moments later and Carl English drained a three-pointer for Caja Laboral. Edin Bavcic tied it at 8-8 with a layup and Sani Becirovic nailed a three-pointer to grab the lead for Olimpija. English scored inside, but Gaspar Vidmar made his third bucket on a nice move in the post. San Emeterio got out on the break and made a tough layup. Becirovic matched him moments later with a drive of his own. Splitter punched back for Caja Laboral in the post, but Becirovic fed a no-look pass to Vidmar for a dunk as both teams were clicking on offense. Splitter struck again on a nice pass from Mirza Teletovic and got a basket-plus-foul. Splitter returned the favor moments later assisting Teletovic for the three at the top of the key. English fed Splitter for a nice left-handed hook to send Caja Laboral up 20-26.
Uros Slokar made a shot in the paint to start the second period for Olimpija as the home side increased its defensive intensity. Oleson broke the quiet spell with a three-pointer that once again ignited Caja Laboral. Bavcic tipped in a miss, but Stanko Barac came off the visitors’ bench to slam home a nice pass by Micov and moments later add a jumper. Olimpija had to call for time when Pau Ribas nailed a three-pointer to cap a 2-10 run and give Caja Laboral a 10-point lead. Out of the timeout, Walsh stepped up and hit a huge three-pointer. But Barac fed Micov this time around for a layup, and Caja Laboral went up 29-41 on a three-pointer by Oleson. Caja Laboral’s defense shut down Olimpija’s attack and the visitors extended their lead on 2 foul shots from Oleson. Walsh finally responded by swishing a three, but his team still was down 32-43 at the half.
Walsh came out firing from the break and started the second half with 5 quick points. First the Olimpija wing got 3 points on a tough layup plus a foul from Teletovic, and then he stole the ball and made a hard reverse layup in transition. Teletovic hit a pull-up jumper out of a Caja Laboral timeout, but Becirovic got a pretty scoop shot to fall. Staying aggressive, Walsh got 2 more points for the foul line to get within 41-45. Micov made a nice half-hook shot over Walsh in the post and Oleson drained an open three to push Caja Laboral back ahead by 9 points. Golubovic drove in for 2 and Walsh beat everyone down court to get another layup for his 16th point of the evening. Huertas responded with a layup and the scoreboard was stuck at 46-52 as both teams clamped down on the defensive end. Golubovic put in an offensive board to cut Olimpija’s deficit to just 3 points. Huertas answered with a big three-pointer, but Golubovic scored again in the post. Still Caja Laboral went into the fourth nursing a 52-56 advantage.
Golubovic sandwiched a three-pointer by San Emeterio with a pair of baskets inside to open the final period. Barac scored 4 points in a row on 2 foul shots and a dunk to force Olimpija head coach Jure Zdovc to call for time at 58-65. His team responded as Slokar used the glass and Walsh swished a baseline jumper to keep Olimpija close. Now it was coach Ivanovic’s turn to stop play and talk things over with his team. Slokar tied the game on basket-plus-foul and after another defensive stop, Walsh pushed the ball and made a layup to grab a 67-65 lead for Olimpija with 4:37 to play. Splitter knotted the score with 2 foul shots, and the center then hit Teletovic for a layup. Bavcic nailed a three from the wing as the lead swung back in Olimpija’s favor, 70-69. Walsh drove in for a bucket, but English answered with a three-pointer and Huertas hit a floater to give Caja Laboral a 3-point lead with 2:17 to play and make Olimpija take a timeout. Huertas then used a great head fake to get to the rim for 2 more to cap a 0-7 Caja Laboral run. Walsh got 2 points from the foul line and Olimpija started to foul intentionally to extend the game. After Oleson went 1 for 2 from the line, Walsh drove in for tough layup to get to 76-78. Huertas hit 2 foul shots and Splitter got a key block against Becirovic to seal the 76-82 win.
Thursday, November 5, 2009