Tau Cermaica continued its winning ways on Thursday with a 72-77 victory at Lottomatica Roma in head coach Bozidar Maljkovic's first game back in the Euroleague. Tau remained perfect in the Top 16 and won its seventh straight game overall in the Euroleague, despite the fact that top scorers Luis Scola and Serkan Erdogan remained home with injuries. Meanwhile, Roma dropped to 1-4 and saw its last chance to qualify for the Quarterfinal Playoffs slip away. The hosts opened strong and led for much of the first half, which ended with the score tied at 40-40. However Tau went on top for good late in the third and held on throughout the last 10 minutes for the win. Tiago Splitter had a big night for Tau with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 10 fouls drawn. Mirza Teletovic and Igor Rakocevic added 17 each and Sergi Vidal 10 for the winners. Ognjen Askrabic recorded 19 points and 7 rebounds for Roma, Dejan Bodiroga was good for 17 and David Hawkins for 14 in defeat.
Splitter's layup accounted for the game's first points, but Roma quickly found its stride with Hawkins's three and a tap-in by Askrabic putting the hosts up 5-2. Hawkins added two free throws, but Teletovic dunked after a pass from Pablo Prigioni. Baskets by Askrabic, Bodiroga and Askrabic again helped the Romans build a 13-6 lead midway through the first period. Another Hawkins's three and a Bodiroga basket stretched the lead to 10 with 3 minutes to play into the first quarter. Alessandro Tonolli's three-pointer from the top of the key left Roma in command at 20-11. A Prigioni shot from downtown, a three-point play by Splitter and another three from Rakocevic helped Tau battle back to trail 24-19 at the end of the opening quarter.
Askrabic buried consecutive threes to start the second quarter as Roma built a 31-20 advantage before Tau started to come back. A Prigioni three from the left and two Mirza Teletovic free throws left Roma ahead 31-25. Alex Righetti and Teletovic then traded baskets before Rakocevic sank two free throws. Ender Arslan's fast break layup saw Tau cut the deficit to 33-31. Luca Garri made a strong move and went past Splitter to score, but the Brazilian caught a pass from Rakocevic and dunked with one hand to get Tau within 2. Bodiroga's jump shot was followed by a Rakocevic three and Arslan's layup as Tau took the lead for the first time at 38-37.Hawkins's layup put Roma back in front, but Teletovic's free throws restored the visitors narrow advantage. An unsportsmanlike foul was called on Arslan after he hit Mire Chatman on the arm and the Roma point guard made a free throw as the teams went to the locker rooms tied 40-40 at halftime.
Vidal's layup gave Tau a lead at the start of the third quarter. Garri buried his first three of the game and Chatman's jump shot made it 45-42 for Roma. Splitter split free throws before Garri scored in transition to make it 47-43. Splitter was then fouled and missed two at the line, and Roma took advantage with Bodiroga's 4 consecutive points giving Roma a 51-45 lead midway through the period. Askrabic's rushed three rimmed out and Teletovic's slam reduced the deficit to 51-49. A Garri foul sent Splitter to the line, but again he struggled and made only 1-of-2. It did not prevent him from asking for the ball though, and Splitter again went to the line and this time converted both attempted free throws as Tau led 52-51 with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Bodiroga and Rakocevic traded baskets before coach Jasmin Repesa called for a timeout. Splitter returned to the line and sank 1-of-2 to make it 55-53. After Jon Stefansson's attempted three-pointer rimmed out, Rakocevic buried a three to give Tau a 58-53 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Rakocevic made his second straight three at the start of the fourth and Kaya Peker added two from the line to make it a 10-point advantage. Bodiroga replied with a three, and when Rakocevic was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Jacopo Giachetti, the Italian went to the line. But Giachetti only split the free throws before Peker's block denied Stefansson's layup. Stefansson did earn a trip to the line and made 1-of-2, but Vidal sank an open three for a 66-58 lead. Righetti's three rimmed out and Teletovic's layup restored Tau's 10-point lead with 5 minutes left to play. Askrabic and Prigioni traded baskets before Repesa called for a timeout. Teletovic fouled Askrabic when he was attempting a three-pointer and he then made 2-of-3 to reduce the deficit to 8. Tau turned the ball over and Hawkins's layup made it 70-64. Teletovic buried two from the charity stripe, but Askrabic, who was having a fine game, replied down low. Prigioni turned the ball over, but Askrabic's shot three rimmed out. Bodiroga put Planinic on the line and he split two free throws to put his team ahead 73-66 with less than 2 minutes remaining. Zoran Planinic added 1 point from the line before Bodiroga's layup cut the deficit to 74-68. Planinic added another point before Askrabic's layup made it 75-70. Splitter again made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe and both Stefansson and Hawkins missed shots from long range. Rakocevic made 1-of-2 from the line to extend Tau's lead to 7 points with 35 seconds on the clock. Hawkins's layup made it 77-72, and that's how it finished as Roma's hopes of progressing to the next round were dashed for good.
Thursday, March 15, 2007