Lottomatica Roma made it to the Top 16 and will keep battling to win regular season Group C by downing Union Olimpija 74-69 in overtime in the Italian capital on Thursday night. Lottomatica improved to 6-2 and ties with Tau Ceramica for first place in Group C. A big showdown is set for January 8, 2009, as Roma hosst Tau with the chance to clinch first place with a win. Meanwhile, Olimpija dropped to 1-7 and mathematically ran out of chances to make it to the next round. Sani Becirovic paced the winners with 23 points on 13-for-14 free throws, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Andre Hutson added 10 points for Roma. Saso Ozbolt led Olimpija with 12 points on 9-for-9 free throws while Jaka Klobucar added 10 for the guests. An outstanding Becirovic allowed Lottomatica to get a 22-16 edge after 10 minutes. Brandon Jennings allowed the hosts to boost its margin to 32-23 soon after that but Klobucar and Mirza Begic got Olimpija within 34-31 at halftime. Becirovic kept pacing Lottomatica after the break to boost his team's margin to 52-43 after 30 minutes. Olimpija rallied in the fourth quarter to get a 58-60 edge on a layup by Miha Zupan. Becirovic and Jacopo Giachetti gave Roma a 62-60 lead but free throws by Ozbolt sent the game to overtime, 62-62, with 2 seconds to go in regulation. Hutson and Becirovic took over in the extra period to win it for Olimpija.
Jennings got Lottomatica going with a layup off a steal, as Olimpija committed 3 consecutive turnovers in the opening 2 minutes. A power basket by Rodrigo De La Fuente gave Roma a 4-0 lead. Olimpija called timeout but Primoz Brezec followed a layup with free throws in a 10-1 opening run that De La Fuente capped with a fallaway jumper. Begic took over with a three-point play that Klobucar followed with a driving layup to bring Olimpija back to life, 10-6. Klobucar kept pacing the guests with free throws, as Hutson and Becirovic came off the hosts' bench. Roberto Gabini struck from downtown and but back-to-back layups by Frank Robinson and Klobucar made Lottomatica call timeout at 13-12. Hutson followed a jumper with a layup while a fast break layup by Becirovic same Roma some fresh air at 19-14. Becirovic soon added a free throw and nailed a running jumper that capped a 7-0 Lottomatica run. Damjan Rudez fired in a six-meter shot to get Olimpija within 22-16 after 10 minutes.
Ivica Jurkovic, who played the 1997 Euroleague Final Four with Olimpija in Rome, buried a three-pointer early in the second quarter but Becirovic scored in
transition while Giachetti provided a highlight with a coast-to-coast layup that made Olimpija call timeout at 27-19. The guests kept struggling to
find open shots, so Olimpija tried to find Vladimir Golubovic in the middle. Meanwhile, Lottomatica opted to slow down the game tempo without Becirovic on
court. Jennings and Robinson traded free throws whie Ozbolt nailed a seven-meter bomb for a 28-23 Olimpija deficit. Brezec scored around the basket while
Jennings added a fast break layup to restore a nine-point Lottomatica margin, 32-23. Klobucar sank free throws but Lottomatica kept dominating the game with
aggressive defense. Becirovic also hit foul shots that Begic erased with a dunk. More free throws by Ozbolt and a layup by Mirza Sarajlija got Olimpija
within 34-31 at halftime.
Ibby Jaaber, who had been scoreless so far, stepped up with a layup off a steal right after the break. Lottomatica tried to run its offense through Becirovic, who fed Hutson for easy points and added a fast break layups to make Olimpija call timeout at 40-31. Begic shined with a jump hook but Lottomatica did not panic. Angelo Gigli took over with a put-back dunk that Jaaber followed with a free throw to give Roma its first double-digit lead, 43-33. Golubovic provided a highlight with a put-back dunk while Rudez added a fast break slam to bring Olimpija back in the game, 43-38. Becirovic drew two fouls and calmly made free throws. Robinson, however finished a five-chance Olimpija offense with a layup while Golubovic added a tip-in and had a huge block on Jennings, who got revenge with a corner triple for a 50-42 Roma lead. Free throws by Sarajlija and Becirovic fixed the score at 52-43 after 30 minutes.
Hukic sank an incredibe jumper right at the start of the fourth quarter while a big triple by Rudez made it a four-point game, 52-48. Brezec scored down low but Sarajlija erased that with free throws. Jaaber nailed a five-meter jumper but Lottomatica now struggled with Becirovic resting on the bench. Meanwhile, Golubovic scored inside to get the guests even closer, 56-53. Becirovic returned to the floor while Jaaber got the crowd involved with a wild power layup. Klobucar and Ozbolt sank free throws to tie the game, 58-58, with 3 minutes to go. A layup by Zupan completed the guests' comeback, 58-60, but Becirovic tied the game with a jumper. Klobucar missed twice from downtown while free throws by Giachetti restored a 62-60 Roma edge with 1:14 remaining. Begic and Giachetti traded missed shots, giving Olimpija another chance. Sarajlija missed a jumper but Olimpija had to inbound again with 3.6 seconds to go and one second on the shot clock. Incredibly enough, Ozbolt drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Becirovic and tied the game with free throws, 62-62, to force overtime.
De La Fuente made free throws early in the extra period but Hukic erased them with a jumper while a free throw by Golubovic put Olimpija back ahead, 64-65. Becirovic was next in the foul line and did not miss but more free throws by Ozbolt gave Olimpija a 66-67 edge with 2:19 remaining. Giachetti and Hutson sank foul shots while Begic missed free throws and a dunk in the other end. Hutson sealed the outcome with turnaround jumper that gave Lottomatica a 72-67 margin with a minute to go. Free throws by Becirovic allowed all Lottomatica fans to celebrate a key home win.
Thursday, December 18, 2008