Tau Ceramica had to battle all 40 minutes to seize its first win of the 2004-05 Euroleague Regular Season by beating Pau-Orthez 81-87 in Group C on the road Thursday. Tau rallied in the final period, using a 3-17 run to seal the outcome in the final 7 minutes. Luis Scola was the best player on the floor with 24 points, including 11 of 16 two-point shots, and 11 rebounds for the winners. Jose Manuel Calderon added 15 points and 5 assists, while Omar Quintero had 14 on 4 of 5 two-pointers, including 7 key points in crunch time that gave Tau the lead for good. Laurent Foirest led Pau with 16 points. Mire Chatman added 14 points and 6 assists, Dzenan Rahimic had 12 while Davor Marcelic chipped in 10 points off the bench for the hosts.
Chatman opened the game with a three-pointer from the top of the key, while Tau looked for Scola early. Both teams scored fluildly in the early going, as a three-point play by Kornel David tied 7-7 for Tau. Chatman scored back-to-back jumpers to keep Pau in the game, but Scola answered by outplaying Johan Petro in the low post. Petro had to leave the floor with an eye injury, and Scola took over with his fourth basket to tie again, 13-13. Tau started to run the floor, as Calderon, Scola and David scored fastbreak layups in a 0-6 run that put the guests ahead 15-19. Artur Drozdov and Foirest answered from downtown, powering Pau late in the quarter, then Rahimic scored near the basket to give Pau a 23-22 lead after 10 minutes.
Pau found good offensive options, among them Rahimic in the paint, early in the second quarter. Tau replied finding the ever-present Scola in the middle. The hosts improved their defense, forcing a pair of Tau turnovers, then Marcelic followed Drozdov's breakaway dunk with a layup in penetration to give Pau a 31-27 advantage. David stepped up with a three-point play, which Marcelic matched in the other end. Eventually, Tau tightened its defense, forging a 0-6 run in which Quintero had 4 points to regain the lead at 35-37. Pau fired back with a layup by Rahimic and a big three by Marcelic for a 41-41 tie, but 3 free throws by Andrew Betts and an outstanding cost-to-coast three by Quintero at the buzzer put the guests up 43-47 at halftime.
Scola opened the second half with yet another short jumper, which Foirest answered from downtown. Tau was a different team on defense now. Betts intimidated Pau's centers, but the guests could not find the way to the basket. Marcelic had a three-point play off a steal and tied the game again, 49-49, after 23 minutes. Both teams went scoreless until Arvydas Macijauskas made two free throws with Scola followed with another basket for a 49-53 Tau edge. Pau lost concentration on offense, while Betts scored twice in the paint to extend Tau's lead to 52-57. Pau finally stopped struggling with an easy basket by T.J. Lux and a big three by Federic Fauthoux. An easy basket by Chatman and a fastbreak layup by Fauthoux gave Pau its first lead of the quarter as it ended, 63-61.
It was do-or-die time, and Pau struggled to score in the opening 2 minutes of the second. Meanwhile, Calderon made a free throw and Travis Hansen stepped up with a three-pointer for a new 63-64 Tau lead. Pau woke up once Drozdov drilled a mid-range jumper, which Foirest followed with a layup in penetration for a quick 6-0 run punctuated by Lux's dunk for 69-64 home advantage. Scola came to Tau's rescue with a three-point play, Calderon added a layup off a midcourt steal and Scola downed yet another basket in a 0-7 run to a 69-71 lead for the guests. The game was now a thriller. Quintero became the unexpected hero with 5 quick points he scored on consecutive fastbreaks He then added a long two-pointer which gave Tau the lead for good, 72-78, with less than 3 minutes to go. Tau limited Pau to just 3 points in 5 minutes, while Calderon's corner three-pointer sealed the outcome, 72-81, with under 2 minutes to go.
Thursday, November 4, 2004