Miha Zupan scored 19 points as Union Olimpija notched its first victory of the Euroleague, beating Alba Berlin convincingly at home 77-69 in Group C. Union improved to 1-4 in the group while Berlin dropped to 2-3. Mirza Sarajlija added 13 points for Olimpija while Vladimir Golubovic added 7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. The Slovenian side used a torrid 10-of-18 on three-pointers in the first half to grab the lead and always had an answer for every Berlin attempt to come back. Rashad Wright tallied 19 points in a losing effort while Ansu Sesay had 15 points for Berlin, which was missing injured guard Julius Jenkins. Berlin’s next game will be at Lottomatica Roma while Olimpija hosts DKV Joventut.
Mirza Begic dunked and converted a three-point play to start the game for the hosts. Zupan nailed a triple to make it 6-0 early. Adam Chubb finally put the German side on the board only to see Zupan hit again from long range for a 9-2 lead. Sesay had a three-point play for Berlin but Saso Ozbolt’s triple gave the Union a 14-5 advantage. Sesay answered with a long ball of his own, which Ozbolt matched for a 17-8 cushion, causing Berlin to call a time-out. Sesay and Zupan swapped three-pointers again and Olimpija led 21-11. Wright nailed a three-ball for Alba. But Damjan Rudez struck right back from long range. Wright was again on target from the right wing for a trey to make it 26-19. Zupan however put back an offensive rebound to give Olimpija a 28-19 lead after one period.
Sarajlija opened the second quarter with yet another triple for the Slovenian side for a 31-19 cushion. Patrick Femerling’s three-point play trimmed it back to nine points and a Wright foul shot made it 31-23. Sarajlija hit yet another long ball for the 34-23 advantage. It was still a 35-25 Union lead as both teams struggled to execute offensively for a couple of minutes. Immanuel McElroy made two foul shots to cut the deficit to eight points but Olimpija was again on target from long range – this time by Ivica Jurkovic. And then Vlado Ilievski hit from downtown as well for a 41-29 advantage. And Rudez’s lay-up pushed the lead to a first-half high of 13 points 43-30, which Sesay trimmed to 43-32 at the break.
Chubb opened the scoring in the second half and Wright’s triple cut the margin to 43-37. Ilievski made two free throws and then Sesay picked up his fourth foul with more than seven minutes left in the third. And Ozbolt’s jumper pushed the advantage back into double figures – 47-37. Golubovic and Zupan both threw down dunks and Zupan knocked down a triple as Union increased its lead to 54-37. Aleksandar Nadjfeji and Golubovic swapped foul shots and then Steffen Hamann and Wright both hit fast break lay-ups as Berlin edged to within 56-44. But Sarajlica and Frank Robinson scored baskets as Olimpija led 60-44 after three periods.
Berlin knew it had a long way to go to come back and Sesay tipped off the fourth quarter with a basket only to see Sarajlija nail a three-pointer to make it 64-46. Hamann converted a three-point play but Union had an answer yet again with Zupan hitting a layup and a foul shot for a 66-49 lead. Alba refused to give up with McElroy hitting a triple and Nadjfeji putting in a lay-up only to see Robinson convert a layup for the hosts and Sarajlija hit two foul shots. After Nadjfeji’s two free throws, McElroy dunked and then Dragan Dojcin hit a triple to trim the deficit to 70-61 with less than three minutes left. Olimpija however had the answer one more time with Jasmin Hukic dropping a three-pointer of his own. And it was 75-61 after Ivica Jurkovic’s free throws with just more than two minutes left. Two Wright foul shots and a Wright three-ball cut the deficit to 75-67 with just more than a minute to play. And Ilievski made two foul shots to finish off the game.
Thursday, November 27, 2008