Real Madrid survived a tough battle and took a crucial step to reach the Top 16 in Group D by edging Partizan 68-67 in the Spanish capital on Thursday night. Madrid is now second in Group D with a 4-3 record. Meanwhile, Partizan joins a three-way tie for the third place with Efes Pilsen and Panionios On Telecoms, all at 3-4. Marko Tomas became the game hero with hitting the game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds. Felipe Reyes led the winners with 15 points and 9 rebounds while Tomas added 10 points for Madrid. Uros Tripkovic led Partizan with 22 points on 6-for-8 three-pointers. Novica Velickovic added 10 for the guests, that trailed 31-13 midway through the second quarter. Velickovic, Petar Bozic and an outstanding Tripkovic allowed Partizan to rally in the second half and get a 54-55 midway through the fourth quarter. Velickovic, Milenko Tepic and Tripkovic struck from downtown in the final minute to give Partizan a 65-67 edge with 44 seconds to go. Tomas answered from downtown while Raul Lopez collected a key steal to make Madrid register a key win.
Jan Vesely got Partizan going with a put-back layup that Reyes erased with a jumper. Partizan tried a big lineup with Vesely at small forward playing alongside Stephane Lasme and Slavko Vranes. Tomas scored in penetration while Jeremiah Massey added a layup for a 6-2 Madrid lead. Lasme sank free throws that Reyes bettered that with a three-point play. Partizan struggled to score and tried to add more fire power with Velickovic at power forward. Pepe Sanchez shined with a behind-the-back assist to Reyes while free throws by Tomas gave Madrid its first double-digit margin, 14-4. Partizan called timeout to adjust its offense, as the guests went scoreless for 4 minutes until Lasme sank a free throw. Sanchez answered from downtown while Louis Bullock capped a 14-1 Madrid run with foul shots. Velickovic stepped up with a fast break layup that Vesely followed with a six-meter jumper. Reyes took over with a put-back basket while Bulock gave Madrid a 15-point lead, 24-9, after 10 minutes.
Partizan kept struggling to score early in the second quarter while a fast break layup by Alex Mumbru gave Madrid a 26-9 lead. Vranes tried to ignit the guests' comeback with a dunk but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Lopez fired in a corner three-pointer to break the game open, 29-11. Partizan tried to play more aggressive and attack the basket, as Strahinja Milosevic shined with a second-chance layup. Mumbru buried a jumper but Tripkovic nailed a triple to get the guests within 31-16. Milosevic and Lasme made free throws but Madrid still kept a safe lead at 32-19. Sergio Llull beat the guests' zone defense with a corner three-pointer. Tripkovic answered from downtown off a Partizan timeout, as the guests improved their defense late in this quarter. Sanchez hit a foul shot while a power layup by Zarko Rakocevic got Partizan within 36-24 as both teams headed back to the locker rooms.
Velickovic made free throws right after the break that Axel Hervelle matched with an acrobatic layup. Madrid tried to play more physical now with Quinton Hosley, Reyes and Hervelle together on court. Lasme provided a highlight with a wild three-point play that got Partizan within single digits, 38-29. Hosley folowed a free throw with a triple from the top of the key to give Madrid some fresh air at 42-29. Tripkovic answered from downtown, as the game turned into a physical battle. Hosley took over with a put-back basket but Milosevic followed free throws with a corner triple to keep the guests within 45-37. Massey steped up with a power layup but free throws by Tripkovic and Bozic brought Partizan back to life, 47-41. Tripkovic took over with another three-pointer but Sanchez immediately answered from downtown for a 50-44 score. Tripkovic and Bullock traded free throws while Bozic buried a triple to keep the guests within 52-49 after 30 minutes.
Madrid improved its defense early in the fourth quarter but kept committing turnovers. Both teams went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Tripkovic nailed his fourth three-pointer to tie the game, 52-52. Madrid could not find the way to the basket, missing 6 consecutive shots until Massey made free throws. Tripkovic stroke again from downtown to give Partizan its first lead since the opening basket, 54-55. Reyes and Tomas rescued Madrid with more foul shots for a 59-55 margin with 3:30 remaining. Velickovic fired in a key three-pointer and Tepic copied him soon after that to restore a 59-60 Partizan edge with 2 minutes to go. Lopez joined the three-point shootout but Velickovic answered with an eight-meter bomb for a 62-64 score. Reyes was fouled twice and made 3-for-4 free throws but Tripkovic buried another triple for a 65-67 score with 44 seconds remaining. Tomas answered from downtown while Lopez collected a key steal in Partizan's final possession to make Madrid seal the incredible, thrilling win.
Thursday, December 11, 2008