Maroussi locked down Partizan 57-49
Maroussi BC moved into a tie for first place in Top 16 Group E by edging Partizan 57-49 in Athens, Greece on Thursday night. Both teams now have 2-1 records going into the week-long break at the halfway point of the round, but will meet again for Week 4 in Belgrade, Serbia to decide which stays in first place. Jamon Lucas paced the winners with 15 points. Jared Homan added 10 and 9 rebounds for Maroussi. Slavko Vranes led Partizan with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Bo McCalebb added 10 points for the guests. Lucas and Michalis Pelekanos fueled an 11-0 run that allowed Maroussi to get its first double-digit lead, 13-2. Partizan held the hosts to just 2 points in the second quarter - tying an all-time Euroleague record in the process - and managed to get within 22-18 at halftime. It was also the lowest combined first-half score ever in Euroleague history. Things changed after the break, however, as Lucas and Stevan Nadjfeji allowed Maroussi to get a 44-37 margin at the end of the third quarter. Vranes tried to change things for Partizan but Lucas, Pat Calathes and outstanding defense helped the hosts to seal the outcome in the final 2 minutes.
Homan got Maroussi going with a big block on the 2.29-meter Vranes and a power basket that opened the scoring. Vranes took revenge with a two-handed dunk, as Partizan ran its offense through him. Partizan also tried to get Vesely involved, but Pelekanos and his Maroussi cohorts disrupted every passing lane. Homan kept pacing Maroussi's offense with a five-meter jumper and Pelekanos added free throws for a 6-2 lead. Lucas followed a put-back layup with a three-pointer off the dribble to make Partizan call timeout at 11-2. The guests switched to a 2-3 zone defense and stop allowing open shots in the high post. Partizan kept missing its own shots, however, and a put-back layup by Pelekanos gave Maroussi its first double-digit lead, 13-2, after an 11-0 run. Partizan missed 10 consecutive shots and committed 5 turnovers until Stevan Milosevic sank free throws. Homan stayed on fire with an off-balance basket but Branislav Dekic answered from downtown for a 15-7 Partizan deficit. Maroussi kept dominating the game with its second unit on the floor, as Pat Calathes downed a triple and Mavroeidis added foul shots to boost the hosts' lead to 20-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Partizan improved its defense early in the second quarter as it tried to improve its shot selection with Aleksandar Rasic and Petar Bozic together on court. Shots did not fall in, however, and Maroussi kept trying run the floor whenever possible. Homan shined with a jump hook bit he didn't find much help around, as the game turned into a defensive battle. Partizan kept trying to feed Vranes in the low post for easy points in the paint. He hit free throws and added an easy layup to bring the guests back to life at 22-11. Maroussi did not find the way to beat Partizan's 2-3 zone defense and entered the foul bonus midway through this period. Roberts and Dekic hit free throws and Vesely dunked to get Partizan back in the game, 22-16. Maroussi kept missing shots and struggled to organize its offense without Keys on the floor. McCalebb took over with a second-chance layup as Maroussi went scoreless for more than 8 minutes in this period, although the hosts kept a 22-18 edge at halftime. In the end, Partizan's second-quarter defense set a record for holding a home team to the fewest points in any quarter of a Euroleague game all decade. It also tied the overall mark for points allowed by any team in a quarter, the only other time coming in a Top 16 game on March 21, 2005 between Efes Pilsen and Benetton Treviso.
McCalebb shined with a coast-to-coast layup that capped a 0-13 Partizan run, as both teams tried to speed up the game tempo right after the break. Nadjfeji struck from downtown - his team's first points in more than 9 minutes - but an electric driving layup by McCalebb kept Partizan as close as 25-22. Lucas took over with a turnaround jumper that Vesely erased with a tip-in. McCalebb stayed on fire and scored again in transition but a corner triple by Pelekanos gave Maroussi some fresh air at 30-26. The hosts had managed to beat Partizan's zone defense with Nadjfeji and Calathes opening the floor at both forwards. Homan provided a highlight with a put-back dunk that Bozic bettered with a rainbow triple. Nadjfeji kept pacing Maroussi with a corner three-pointer than made Partizan call timeout at 35-29. Keys split free throws and Lucas added a baseline jumper for a 38-31 Maroussi lead. Mavroeidis grabbed a loose ball and put it in and Lucas scored off a steal but Roberts and Rasic kept the guests within 42-35. Lucas scored again in penetration but a buzzer-beating layup by Vranes kept the guests within 44-37 after 30 minutes.
Bozic nailed a wide open triple early in the fourth quarter and Kecman beat the shot clock buzzer with a driving layup that brought Partizan as close as 44-42. Marios Batis rescued Maroussi with a seven-meter bomb and a free throw Kostas Kaimakoglou gave his team a 48-42 edge with 7 minutes left. Partizan struggled to score right when it mattered while Keys and Pelekanos hit free throws to make it a nine-point game, 52-43. Partizan needed a quick comeback to return to the game but Maroussi was all over the place in defense, with high intensity. Vranes stepped up with a jump hook and soon added a put-back layup to keep Partizan as close as 52-47. Maroussi had opted to use long possessions and Calathes shined with a key three-pointer from the left corner. A layup by Roberts gor the guests within 55-49 with 2:30 left. Lucas stepped up with a put-back basket and Partizan kept missing shots in crunch time. McCalebb and Roberts went off-target from downtown and Maroussi patiently run the game clock down to cruise to a well-deserved win.
Thursday, February 11, 2010