An epic night was lived at the Tivoli Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia when Union Olimpija took its second win of the season against visiting Climamio Bologna by 87-80 after overtime in Group A. When regulation time ended 73-73, the guests lost their best offensive weapon in the first play of the extra session, Sani Becirovic, who was making a return home to play against his old team. For the hosts, Yotam Halperin stepped up to score the last 6 points and bring down the house after a tense duel. The win lifts Olimpija to a 2-4 record in Group A while Climamio drops to 3-3. Not only did Halperin scored the decisive points, but was Olimpija's best scorer with 24 points. Teemu Rannikko added 19, making 5 of 9 triples, while three players added 10 each: Szymon Szewczyk, Dragisa Drobnjak and Vedran Morovic. For Climamio, Becirovic scored 23 points and Erazem Lorbek, another Olimpija alumnus, added 17.
Technical problems with the shot-clock delayed the action less than one minute into the game, but when it started again, Becirovic and Rannikko traded triples for a 3-3 tie. Hasan Rizvic soon made it 7-3 for Olimpija by scoring from underneath as both defenses dominated. Neither offense was especially effective until Halperin rised up for a triple and a 10-4 Olimpija edge. Climamio kept looking for fast shots from the arc, but they didn't go in. When the guests looked inside, Rizvic stopped Lorbek with a block. Kiwane Garris finally found the triple for Climamio after a slower attack, but Halperin went for his sixth point in the quarter to make it 18-11. A trio of triples fell after that, a pair of them for the guests in a 2-6 run that Garris capped from the arc for a 23-18 score. But Rizvic found time to slam on the final play of the quarter to keep Olimpija comfortably in charge, 25-18.
The start of the second quarter saw Marco Belinelli blast Climamio's fifth three-pointer, but and Dragisa Drobnjak and Morovic scored fast layups to keep Olimpija ahead 29-23. Now more confident offensively, Climamio turned to Stefano Mancinelli and Travis Watson, who scored to forge a new tie, 29-29. Climamio's defense held Olimpija scoreless for more than three minutes until Szymon Szewczyk was fed inside for consecutive easy baskets, then he extended his personal run with a three-point play that gave a new cushion to Olimpija, 36-29. Climamio struggled on defense now, but back-to-back triples by Belinelli and Macinelli brought the deficit down to 37-35, forcing an Olimpija timeout. Olimpija added to its lead before Watson fed Lorbek in the lane to close the first half with a 40-37 scoreboard.
Olimpija started the second half playing zone defense, while on offense Rannikko hit an eight-meter triple to make it 45-37. No defense could hold Climamio down for long, however, and soon Becirovic made 2 baskets to pull the guests within 45-44. Becirovic then scored in transition and added a free throw for a personal 0-7 run and a new Climamio lead, 45-47. Rannikko was the only player scoring for Olimpija at this point but Halperin soon joined him with back-to-back triples to tie again, 53-53. Becirovic replied with his own three-point play and his 10th point in the quarter and an unsportsmanlike foul called on Bagaric was not that bad for Climamio as Olimpija got no points out of it. More free throws by Becirovic made it 53-58 while on the other side, Drobnjak scored only one. But Vasco Evtimov made up for that with a basket-plus-free throw, 57-58 to put an end to the third quarter.
To start the fourth quarter, Climamio held a slight edge when Lorbek nailed a triple to make it 59-65. Olimpija's best scorer so far, Jimmy Oliver, didn't score his first basket until minute 34 but Watson replied to that with his three-point play. Climamio stretched its defense and Rannikko responded by driving to force Watson's fifth foul and score 2 free throws, to which Halperin added his third triple for 66-68. After a timeout, Oliver stepped up to tie again, 69-69, with a three that fired up the crowd, even moreso when Rannikko copied him for a 72-69 Olimpija lead. Lorbek finally responded for Climamio, but it wouldn't be until 35 seconds were left that anyone else scored. That was Halperin, whose free throw made it 73-71. Climamio looked to Lorbek, who scored a layup for the 73-73 tied. On Olimpija's last possession, Rannikko drove to the basket but missed. Climamio got the ball back with 0.3 of a second to go, but Becirovic's shot went off the rim to bring overtime.
In the first play of the extra session, Becirovic fouled out, leaving Climamio without its best offensive weapon. Szewczyk appeared with 3 points for a 77-74 Olimpija lead. When Halperin drove to draw a foul and hit the free throws, it was 79-74. Lorbek scored free throws, too, and Olimpija's defense stopped Mancinelli before Halperin drove once more to feed Drobnjak for an 81-76 score. Lorbek was the reference for the guests but Halperin was the hero of the night with yet another drive that found the bottom of the net, 83-78 and 30 seconds to go. Climamio was almost dead when Lorbek turned the ball over and that allowed Halperin to go back to the freet hrow line to hit both attempts and seal the deal for Olimpija.
Thursday, December 8, 2005