Partizan Belgrade recorded a crucial 73-63 home win over Lottomatica Roma to get a leg up in the race for the Top 16 from Group B. Partizan raised its record to 4-4, joining a three-team tie for third place in the group. Equally as important, The Serbian champs erased the 5-poit deficit from their opening night loss in Rome, giving the team the lead in any potential tiebreaker. Lottomatica, which dropped to 2-6, now sits in last place together with Union Olimpija. Partizan made a crucial 10-2 run early in the third quarter to take a 41-32 advantage. An 8-3 spurt at the beginning of the last quarter raised the lead to 59-46. A 2-9 Lottomatica run re-opened the game, at the midway point of the last quarter, but Partizan´s accurate free-throw shooting saw the home team ice the game down the stretch. Predrag Drobnjak scored 10 of his team-high 15 in the final period. Uros Tripkovic added 14 on 4 for 7 three-point shooting, while Dusan Kecman had 10 points and 5 rebounds and Vonteego Cummings dished 8 assists. Loukas Mavrokefalidis tallied 16 points, David Hawkins 12 and Dejan Bodiroga 11 with 5 rebounds for Roma.
Hawkins opened the scoring after few seconds for Roma, while Nikola Pekovic got Partizan on the board from the line. Cumings beat Roma´s 2-3 zone from downtown to put his side in front, 5-2. Hawkins added another score, but Novica Velickovic gave a 7-4 cushion to the hosts at the midway point of the quarter. Mavrokefalidis stopped the scoreless period for Roma and Mire Chatman´s basket made it 9-8. Tripkovic and Kecman fueled Partizan with back-to-back triples to take a 15-7 margin. Hawkins drained a mid-range jumper after a timeout and Roma switched defenses to man to man, before Drobnjak´s free throw capped the first quarter with Partizan ahead 17-10.
Alex Righetti converted a three-point-play early in the second quarter and Mavrokefalidis added a bucket to put Roma right back in the game. Cummings´s mid-range jumper extended the gap to 19-15. Bodiroga scored his first two points from the line, but Kosta Peorvic answered with a big dunk. Luca Garri tied the score at 23-23 with 5 straight points only to see Luka Bogdanovic explode with a three to fuel Partizan. Garri missed one of two free throws, but Bodiroga tied the score again. Jacopo Giachetti stole the ball for easy points in the open court, putting Roma ahead with two minutes left to halftime. Hawkins blocked a dunk attempt by Pekovic and Giachetti drove to the basket for Lottomatica´s biggest lead, 26-30. Bogdanovic found space to tie it one more time before Drobnjak scored a free throw to give Partizan a slim 31-30 margin at halftime.
Tripkovic beat the shot clock from downtown to start the second half. Alessandro Tonolli found room in the paint to score a short jumper, before Tripkovic replied to raise the difference to 37-32. Perovic capped a 10-2 run to take the hosts to 41-32. Mavrokefalidis kept Roma in the picture, answering a red-hot Tripkovic from the foul line and keeping Lottomatica in the game. Bodiroga beat the 24-seconds clock with a triple from the corner, but Bogdanovic boosted Partizan and Cummings gave the hosts their first double digit cushion, 51-41, with another mid-range jumper from the corner. Bodiroga scored two free throws to fix the scoreboard at 51-43 at the end of the third quarter.
Hawkins ended a two-and-a-half minute scoreless stretch by bagging one of his two attempts from the foul line, but Drobnjak beat the Roma zone with a three from the corner to make it 54-44. Righetti tired to cut it with a layup, but Drobnjak chipped in his second consecutive shot from beyond the arc and scored two more underneath for a comfortable 59-46 advantage. Mavrokefalidis seemed to be the only man for Roma, converting a three-point-play to fuel the Lottomatica hopes. However Drobnjak nailed his 10th point of the period for Partizan. Bodiroga and Hawkins amassed six points and the guests climbed back to 61-54. Tripkovic hit another bomb, answered by Chatman´s jumper and free throw to make it 64-57 with two minutes left. Two free throws from Perovic and a triple by Kecman sealed the game with Partizan on top 69-57 with a minute to play. Hawkins and Mavrokefalidis scored again for Lottomatica, but Cummings was perfect from the foul line and the last basket tallied by Chatman only cut the cushion to 73-63 for Partizan.
Thursday, December 14, 2006