Its dream of reaching the Top 16 out of Group C got a little closer when Idea Slask stopped Alba Berlin 92-80 at home in Wroclaw, Poland, on Thursday night. Slask's record rose to 5-4, good for at least a fourth-place tie with Tau Ceramica. Alba fell to 2-7 and will need a winning streak now to save any hope of advancement. Euroleague scoring leader Lynn Greer was again the man for Slask, scoring 26 points and dishing 9 assists. Tanel Tein had his best Euroleague game yet with 21 points on 6 of 6 two-pointers, while Adam Wojcik had 19 points, including 3 of 3 three-pointers. Ryan Randle scored 8 of his 13 points for the winners in a decisive 10-2 run to open the final quarter. DeJuan Collins led Alba with 28 points, including 9 of 9 free throws. John Best added 20 points and Vladimir Petrovic 12 for the guests.
Both teams were fluid and up-tempo on offense in the first quarter. Greer scored 4 points in an 8-2 opening run, but Alba bit back as Best hit a three-pointer and Collins consecutive layups for a 10-9 scoreboard. Greer landed a triple, Dominik Tomczyk a mid-range jumper and Tein a layup to extend Slask's lead to 17-11. But Alba kept stroking in this back-and-forth battle with a 3-8 run in which Best drilled another three while Collins added a three-point play. Greer had the final word in the quarter, scoring 4 points in the final 2 minutes to give Slask a four-point lead, 23-19, at the end of 10 minutes.
Alba used a 0-7 run early in the second quarter highlighted by a Best three-point play to get back the lead at 25-27. It didn't last long. Slask fired back with a Wojcik triple from up and switched to a 2-3 defense. Alba, after a timeout, committed 3 turnovers while Randle, Tein and Greer extended Slask's run. Wojcik ended it at 15-0 with a triple that was good for a 40-27 local lead. Alba found some fresh air once Collins made 2 from the line, starting a 2-11 run in which Stefano Garris broke his two-month jinx by drilling a three-pointer and Petrovic added 4 more points. Tein came to the rescue for Slask then, scoring 5 consecutive points to push the hosts' lead to 49-40 at halftime.
After the break, an early basket by Greer and a layup by Maciej Zielinski made everyone think Slask would have an easy finish. But Alba's frontcourt had another idea in mind. Best made back-to-back baskets while Jovo Stanojevic added a three-point play which made it a six-point game, 55-49. Slask struggled offensively but managed to keep its lead due to 4 free throws by Wojcik. Meanwhile, Best remained unstoppable, drilling another three-pointer plus a turnaround jumper, while feeding Chuckie Evans for a triple that cut the deficit to 61-58 after 27 minutes. Alba even made it a two-point game, 66-64, before another triple by Wojcik and a layup by Greer at the buzzer extended Slask's lead to 71-65 after 30 minutes.
Randle stepped up for Slask in the fourth quarter, providing intensity on defense while scoring 8 points in a 10-2 opening run. Just before he fouled out, Randle's two-handed slam finished the run with Slask's lead back to double-digits, 81-67, with 6 minutes to play. Alba cut 5 points off the deficit, but Tein's second three-pointer and another Wojcik jumper restored a 12-point lead, 86-74, with 2 minutes to go. The outcome was clear, and Slask fans had time to celebrate by giving the hosts a standing ovation. Tein made a spectacular double-pump reverse layup off the baseline to give the crowd something in return, not to mention hope to keep playing past the regular season.
Thursday, January 15, 2004