Already-eliminated Union Olimpija left the Euroleague behind in style by rallying for an 82-86 road win over Group B rival DKV Joventut in Badalona, Spain on Thursday. It was Olimpija's second big upset win in a row, taking the sting out of finishing last in Group B at 5-9. Joventut fell to 7-7 with its third consecutive defeat, but could not have moved up from third place anyway. Olimpija trailed by 11 points early in the second half before staging a takeover early in the final quarter and holding on to win. Teemu Rannikko hit 6 late free throws among his game-high 22 points to seal the deal. Domen Lorbek added 18 points for the winners and Manuchar Markoishvili 17. Those three combined to make 10 triples as Olimpija went 11-for-22 from the arc to make and sustain its comeback. For Joventut, Rudy Fernandez had a team'high 18 points. Charles Gaines added 14 while Lubos Barton registered a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Fernandez put down a layup and Elmer Bennett a triple in the very first minute. When Domen Lorbek and Ivica Jurkovic got 4 quick points back for Olimpija, Fernandez rained a three-pointer, too, for an 8-4 Joventut lead. Olimpija was unfazed as Manuchar Markoishvili, Lorbek and Jurkovic kept scoring to even the board at 10-10. Lorbek's layup-plus-free throw then gave the visitors their first lead, but Fernandez matched him with a shot from downtown to tie 13-13. Joventut's defense ruled for a couple minutes while Gaines hit 4 free throws and Paco Vazquez his team's fourth triple in 8 minutes for a 7-0 run and 20-13 scoreboard. Rannikko did what he could for Olimpija, offsetting more points by Gaines and Vazquez with free throws and a quarter-ending layup to keep the difference down to 24-17 after 10 minutes.
Markoishvili hit Olimpija's first triple early in the second quarter, while Joventut went inside to Gaines and Andrew Betts to lead 28-20. Now it was Olimpija's defense that took over for a few minutes while Goran Jurak and Rannikko teamed up for 6 unanswered points. Joventut stayed one step ahead, even when Rannikko's next shot from downtown landed good for a 32-31 scoreboard. That's when Joventut revived as Gaines dunked, Lubos Barton hit free throws and Robert Archibald made a layup-plus-free trhow for a new eight-point difference, 39-31. Markoishvili and Lorbek, with a triple, helped Rannikko keep Olimpija within 41-38. Even when Fernandez struck from long-range, Jurak went inside and Markoishvili canned a triple to make it a whole new game, 44-43, at halftime.
The battle was joined and the teams traded baskets early in the third quarter until Ferran Laviña, Fernandez and Betts combined on 6 straight points for Joventut and Barton soon added a triple for a double-digit lead, 59-48. Olimpija didn't notice. Instead, Lorbek exploded with a pair of blasts from downtown around a layup by Markoishvili to make it 59-56. When Jurkovic struck from the arc a couple minutes later, it was all tied up, 60-60. Sandi Cebular took Olimpija's first lead with a jumper at 61-62, but a Marcelo Huertas triple and a late layup by Gaines allowed Joventut to escape the third quarter with a 66-62 advantage.
With a couple inside baskets, Archibald kept Joventut from losing its lead again early in the foruth quarter, even though Rannikko kept Olimpija close with a triple. Saulius Kuzminskas and Jurak got the visitors within a single point again, 70-69. Betts gave the hosts a reprieve, but then it was all Olimpija as Markoishvili's next three-pointer highlighted a 0-6 blast with which the guests went ahead 72-75. Joventut had only that layup by Betts to show for 5 minutes until Laviña made free throws, but Lorbek answered immediately from downtown for a 74-78 lead with 2 minutes left. Fernandez made 1 of 2 at the line and Bennett returned with a triple, but then it was all Rannikko, who hit 6 of 6 free throws down the stretch to let Olimpija leave the competition in style, with its second win in a row.
Thursday, February 1, 2007