Tau Ceramica took a huge step toward making the Top 16 by coming back to beat Group C rival Idea Slask 87-88 on the road in Wroclaw, Poland on Wednesday. Tau took over in the final period and won by dominating the offensive rebounds to improve to 7-5, good enough at least for sole possession of fourth place in the Group C standings. Slask, who led until the final quarter, fell to 6-6 and will need to carry on fighting to make it to the next round. Arvydas Macijauskas led the winners with 17 points, while Kornel David added 16 on 6 of 8 two-pointers. Andres Nocioni had a huge double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds while Andrew Betts had 12 points for Tau. As usual, Lynn Greer led Slask with 30 points and 9 assists. Adam Wojcik added 23 on 6 of 8 two-pointers, while Dominik Tomczyk posted 14 pointes, 9 rebounds and 4 steals for the hosts.
Tau had a strong start, already taking control on the boards and playing good defense. A mid-range jumper by Nocioni and free throws by Betts gave the guests a 0-4 lead. Slask was stalled until Greer made a layup that ignited an 8-0 run in which Wojcik had 4 points, giving the hosts a 10-6 lead. Physical play resulted in lots of early fouls, but soon Slask found its shooters: a three-pointer by Tomczyk gave the hosts a 15-9 lead, to which Michael Ignerski added a triple of his own. Tau drew fouls and get back into the game from free throw line, but Greer became unstoppable now. Soon, a dunk by Ryan Randle turned into a three-point play in which Luis Scola picked up his third foul and Slask went up 23-16. Tau used a 3-8 final run, highlighted by an unconsteted dunk from Macijauskas, to get back within 26-24 after 10 minutes.
Tau would soon take back a lead at 26-28 on a layup by Nocioni and a basket by Sergi Vidal early in the second, but Slask fired back with an 11-4 run in which Greer drilled 2 three-pointers. With a three-point play by Tomczyk, Slask was ahead again, 37-32. Vidal, with 5 points in a minute, kept Tau close, but Greer found his rhythm again and extended the lead to 44-37 with 3 minutes to go in the half. Everything seemed to roll for Slask, as Randle provided some showtime with his second dunk while Radoslaw Hyzy made a layup and Greer added 2 more free throws for a 13-2 run and a double-digit lead, 50-39. Tau could only cut it to 53-43 before the halftime buzzer sounded, as Greer had excelled in the first half with 16 points and 7 assists.
Both teams stuggled to score early in the third quarter, but a mid-range jumper by David made it a seven-point game, 55-48, after 24 minutes. Tau's defense had improved, but the guests lacked concentration on offense, missing easy shots and committing turnovers. Meanwhile, Wojcik scored 4 points which helped Slask to keep a safe lead at 59-54 midway through the quarter. David was the main offensive weapon for Tau, scoring 5 points and feeding Pablo Prigioni for a three-pointer in a 5-10 run which brought the guests within 64-62 after a layup in penetration by Macijauskas. Slask called timeout, and Greer answered with a three-pointer, but a layup by Nocioni and a basket in the low post by Scola were good enough to bring Tau within 67-66 after 30 minutes.
Tau got its lead first since the early second quarter on 2 free throws by Scola, but he then picked up his fourth foul. Slask went scoreless for 2 minutes while a three-pointer by Macijauskas and 2 more from the line by Scola gave the guests a 67-73 lead after a 0-7 run. Slask would score just 4 points in the opening 5 minutes of the fourth quarter, while another bomb from downtown by Macijauskas and a mid-range jumper by David helped Tau to extend its lead to 71-80 with 5 minutes to go. Now Slask fired back, using a 9-0 run powered by a Wojcik three-pointer, 4 points by Tomczyk and a layup by Greer to tie the game at 80-80. The game game turned into a thriller as both teams entered the final 90 seconds tied at 82-82. A key turnover by Greer and Tau's superiority on offensive rebounds helped the guests to get an 82-87 lead with 14 seconds to go after free throws by Macijauskas, David and Nocioni. The carousel of free throws continued with 2 made by Greer and 1 added by Prigioni to make it a 84-88 game with 6 seconds to go, as a three-pointer by Greer at the buzzer came too late for Slask.
Wednesday, February 4, 2004