Partizan showed it is ready to reach new heights in the Euroleague this season by beating mighty Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv 103-91 at Pionir Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday night. The teams join a six-way tie for the second spot in Group B with 1-1 records, trailing only undefeated Panathinaikos. Predrag Drobnjak led the winners with 23 points, Vonteego Cummings added 19 points, Luka Bogdanovic 17 on 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, Kosta Perovic tallied 13, Uros Tripkovic 11 and Milenko Tepic 10 in an unforgettable night for Partizan, which got its second ever win against Maccabi and its first since 1988. Meanwhile, visiting Maccabi, which had sweet memories of the arena after winning its first Euroleague title there in 1977, was led by Simas Jasaitis with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Jaime Arnold added 18 and Nikola Vujcic 11 for the 2004 and 2005 Euroleague champion. Partizan was unstoppable, hitting 13-of-21 three-pointers and 26-of-31 free throws on its way to a big home win. Bogdanovic had 10 points in the first quarter to give Partizan a 21-19 edge after 10 minutes. Partizan boosted its margin to 49-42 at halftime, while Cummings and an unstoppable Drobnjak helped the hosts to seal the win, 83-67, after 30 minutes. Maccabi managed to get within 94-85 but it was too little, too late for the perennial Israeli champs.
The game started slowly, as Tripkovic missed a triple, Vujcic's shot was blocked and Lior Eliyahu committed an offensive foul. Eliyahu had his next try swatted before finally Perovic opened the scoring with a layup. The teams were trading baskets until Jasaitis netted a three-pointer, but Cummings answered the same way. After 2 turnovers from Partizan players, Jasaitis added 4 more points for Maccabi to take an early 7-12 lead. Playing strong defense, Maccabi did not allow Partizan a point for the next four minutes. When Bogdanovic replaced Drobnjak the situation changed. Bogdanovic hit two from the line and then added a bomb to tie the score. Kecman scored on the break to give the hosts their first lead. Bogdanovic threw in another triple to cap a 10-0 run before Will Bynum scored from the line for Maccabi, which switched to zone in the last minute of first period. Bogdanovic added two more from the line, making it 10 points in three minutes on the floor. Vujcic netted a bomb at the buzzer to end the first period at 21-19.
Jasaitis and Robney Buford opened second period with 5 points to swing things back in Maccabi's favor. Partizan answered with 10-0 run, led by Tripkovic who scored 4. Arnold and Derrick Sharp tied the score once more, but Tripkovic returned Partizan's lead with yet another three. Maccabi tried a smaller and faster lineup, but Partizan remained patient, holding a 4-point lead through good defensive work and fastbreak points from Cummings. Two minutes before the end of the period Partizan led 46-38 after Perovic scored 5 points in a row. The hosts ended the period with a 49-42 advanatge.
Partizan started the second half with a Drobnjak slam and a lay up as the lead grew to double-digits for the first time. Tripkovic added a triple and Nikola Pekovic a fastbreak basket as part of a 9-2 run, which forced Maccabi coach Neven Spahija to call time out with his team down 58-44. Drobnjak was the spirit of the team in those minutes with steals and points. After his lay up and three-pointer, Partizan led 63-48. Then Bogdanovic and Jasaitis traded triples and Cummings tied 5 points on to make it 71-53 midway through the period. Maccabi was in complete confusion and Partizan continued with its three-point barrage. Bogdanovic scored his third triple as the advantage reached at 19 points. Jasaitis woke up his team with his third three, cutting the gap to 14, but Pekovic scored a second-chance bucket and Drobnjak added one more triple. Partizan led 80-60 with two minutes to go in third period. Points from Sharp and Jasaitis showed that last period would not be a routine for Partizan, which led 83-67 after 30 minutes.
Arnold opened the last period with a 3-point-play. He added 2 more points on the offensive glass to make it 83-72. Tepic and Drobnjak answered as Dusan Kecman brought new effort to the defense. The result was a triple from teenager Milenko Tepic for a 92-74 lead. Drobnjak was called for a technical and Maccabi punished him with 4 points to open the game again. Perovic and Arnold traded points from the line and Vujcic added 2 more as Maccabi got within 94-84 with three minutes left. Will Bynum scored one more point, but Vujcic fouled out and Cummings reestablished a double-digit lead from the line. After Noel Felix netted a point from the line, Cummings created a three-point-play and Drobnjak stole the ball and was fouled as the outcome became clear. He scored both free throws and Partizan led 101-87 when the sold-out Pionir Arena started to celebrate the first Euroleague victory of the season.