Partizan stayed alive in the fight to reach the Quarterfinal Playoffs from Group E by downing DKV Joventut 80-89 on Wednesday in Badalona, Spain. Partizan improved to 2-3 now ties with Olympiacos for the second place in this group, while Joventut dropped to 1-4 but still has an outside chances to advance. Partizan has more than one way to advance; first, if it beats CSKA and Joventut defeats Olympiacos in Greece; and second, if it loses but Joventut wins by fewer than 34 points. Meanwhile, for Joventut to finish second, it needs to win by at least 34 points in Greece and see CSKA beat Partizan. Partizan's hero against Joventut was Uros Tripkovic, who scored a Euroleague career-high 26 points by making 3 of 3 two-point shots and 6 of 8 triples. Predrag Drobnjak added 17 points while Dusan Kecman had 14 for Partizan. Rudy Fernandez had 16 points for Joventut, Elmer Bennett added 15, Robert Archibald 14 and Charles Gaines 13. Joventut had led 64-51 late in the third quarter before three-pointers by Drobnjak, Tripkovic and Kecman brought Partizan back to life. A later 0-11 run that Tripkovic and Drobnjak capped with 2 more triples widened Partizan's run to 6-32 and broke the game open, 70-83, midway through the final period
Drobnjak's baseline bank shot got Partizan on the board first, while a runner by Marcelinho Huertas did the same for Joventut. The hosts soon sent Fernandez on a breakaway dunk to lead 6-2, but Luka Bogdanovic scored 4 points in a 0-7 response by Partizan, including a reverse alley-oop. Bennett came in and hit his first shot from the arc to tie 9-9 then split baskets with Andrew Betts as Joventut rolled in front 13-9. Partizan hit back with a layup by Nikola Pekovic and a triple by Tripkovic. With a pair of open-court steals, Gaines mounted his own six-point run for Joventut before Kecman and Bennett traded triples. Pekovic and Drobnjak got to the line to hit 4 of 4 free throws as Joventut hung onto a 22-21 difference after 10 minutes.
Tripkovic's basket-plus-free throw sparked a 0-7 Partizan run to start the second quarter as Kecman joined in with back-to-back layups to give the guests a 22-28 lead. Fernandez hit free throws and fed Archibald for a layup to get his team within 27-28. Tripkovic scored off a midcourt steal but Gaines followed free throws with an outstanding reverse dunk to put Joventut back ahead, 31-30. Tripkovic silenced the crowd with a three-pointer but free throws by Archibald and a layup by Huertas provided another lead change at 35-33. Tripkovic and Archibald traded baskets while Paco Vazquez sank a triple to give Joventut a 40-35 edge. Kecman stepped up with a layup but Bennett's acrobatic layup kept Joventut up comfortably and his running triple let the hosts sail to halftime ahead by 50-43
Kecman scored coming off the baseline to get Partizan going after the break but Archibald answered with a power layup. Partizan had improved its defense while Drobnjak buried a triple from the top to make it 52-48. Joventut called a timeout, after which Vazquez nailed a jumper. Archibald added free throws, while Fernandez scored a triple off a steal and a driving layup, capping a 9-0 run that shot Joventut in front by 61-48 and forced a Partizan timeout. Pekovic tried to change things with a layup-plus-free throw for the guests, but Fernandez answered from downtown to keep Joventut ahead, 64-51. Tripkovic started the comeback single-handedly, with consecutive bombs from downtown before Drobnjak joined the three-point shootout and got Partizan within 64-60. Perovic followed free throws with a five-meter jumper while Kecman beat the buzzer with a running triple that capped a 2-16 run and gave Partizan a 66-67 edge after 30 minutes.
The game turned into a physical battle early in the fourth quarter, as Archibald muscled up a tipin to put Joventut ahead again, 68-67. Partizan went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Perovic surfaced with a put-back dunk. Cummings then buried a corner three-pointer as Partizan's defense grew intense. Betts gave Joventut some fresh air with a second-chance layup but Tripkovic answered from downtown at 70-75 midway through the quarter. Drobnjak broke out for a transition dunk before Tripkovic raised and buried his sixth triple as a shocked Joventut needed a timeout at 70-80. Drobnjak then capped a game-breaking 0-11 run with a corner three-pointer that proved time was running out for the hosts. Bennett made free throws and Rubio scored in penetration, while Gaines and Perovic traded dunks. But by trading points, Joventut failed to rally, and when Tripkovic sealed his outstanding game with a free throw, Partizan was fully in the playoffs race.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007