Skipper Bologna is alive and kicking in Group C tonight after taking away a crucial 76-82 victory from its trip to Zadar in Croatia. With this win, the Italian League leaders and perennial Euroleague contenders avoided a gloomy continental prognosis by managing to lift their record to 5-6 and join a two-way fifth-place tie with Novo Mesto (5-6). Skipper still faces an uphill climb, but may now be able to directly influence its chances with head-to-head games left against both teams tied for third place, Pau-Orthez (6-5) and CSKA Moscow (6-5). Zadar falls to 2-9 and can only act as a spoiler in one more game, at CSKA on January 31. On Thursday, Skipper recovered from an early 12-2 knockout attempt by Zadar to join what was quite an even affair, with differences after the half and third quarters of only two points. In the last quarter, however, a triangle-and-two defense by Skipper stifled Zadar and allowed Skipper to take control with leads of up to nine points. The veterans won it for Skipper, with Zoran Savic exploding for a season-high 26 points while Gregor Fucka adding a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds. For Zadar, Ivan Grgat had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Davor Marcelic 20 points.
After an initial basket by Skipper guard Claudio Pilutti, Zadar got up a head of steam and tried to take contral of the game. With Ivan Grgat and Tomilav Ruzic applying themselves under the baskets, Zadar pushed the tempo faster and scored the next dozen points for a 12-2 lead that set the Italian visitors on their heels. After a timeout by Skipper, the run was stopped by Pilluti with his three-pointer. Skipper climbed back to within four points, but Zadar remained strong inside, as Grgat and Hrvoje Perincic lifted the home to an 18-8 lead. Now, Emilio Kovacic and Anthony Goldwire answered for Skipper with the next six points, dropping the deficit 18-14. Soon, dangerous Davor Marcelic checked in with his second three-pointer for a 21-14 Zadar lead, and but Zoran Savic, subbing for Fucka, got a bucket to trim that to 21-16 at the buzzer.
In the second quarter, Fucka returned to a game that was more and more even on the floor as well as on the . An equal game on both sides were made as well as on the scoreboard. In the 14th min Fucka makes his first basket with a 3 pointer for 27-23. Baskets are made on the both sides. 3 pointer by Popovic and a great play by Marcelic bring back Zadar in the 17th min to 8 point difference. 3 pointer by Fucka and a fast break by Zoran Savic, Skipper is back into the game (37-35). At the end of the half Grgat and Fucka make baskets for the final 39-37.
The continuation of the game after halftime was a headache for both sides. Skipper missed its first six attempts at the basket as Zadar, with Marcelic, Grgat and Perincic scoring, went on to lead 46-37. Finally in the 24th minute, Fucka and then Athnony Goldwire make their baskets. Grgat and Marcelic worked together on the offence to keep Zadar with a solid lead 50-43. A three-pointer by Marko Popovic in put Zadar up eight, but Piluti answered in kind to make it 53-48. After two turnovers by Zadar, Savic and Fucka scored to bring Skipper within 53-52. In the 30th minute, Skipper took the lead on a three-pointer by Gianluca Basile and a basket by Savic, 55-57.
Zadar missed Grgat, who left the game a few minutes earlier because of an injury when he was fighting for the ball. Savic and Fucka took advantage of that absence and the situation did not change early in the final quarter. With his team down 55-61, Grgat reentered. Ruzic and Savic traded three-pointers to a 58-64 score, then Grgat got Zadar within five at 61-66. Now, however, the veterans Savic and Fucka totally took over under the basket and the lead grew to 61-70. In the 35th minute, the lead was Skipper's highest, 63-76. Zadar managed to score the rest of the way, but not enough to challenge the lead again.
Thursday, January 17, 2002