Krka Novo Mesto remains in the hunt for a Top 16 berth in Group C after mauling end-of-table Buducnost 101-74 at home on Wednesday in another in a string of impressive offensive displays. Krka had doubled Buducnost's score by the early second quarter and never looked back on its way to a 6-7 record and a date with destiny - and perhaps Lady Luck - in the season finale next week at Pau-Orthez. Young backcourt ace Jaka Lakovic was the leader for Krka again with 25 points. His inside mate Mate Skelin added 18, Bennett Davison 16, Boris Gnjidic 12 and Aleksandar Capin 10 as early foul trouble made it impossible for Buducnost (2-11) to defend its way back in to the game. Krka also out-rebounded Buducnost 35-23, with Davison grabbing 9 of them. Igor Rakocevic had 20 points for the losers and Dragan Vukcevic 17. Krka will only be able to claim a tie for fifth place, at best, after this week's games are finished, but will hold out hope for the right combination of wins and losses against its direct rivals in order to claim a chance for the Top 16 next week.
A early foul and technical on top of it by Vladimir Kuzmanovic on Lakovic was a predictor of things to come. The score was tied 7-7 in the third minute when Buducnost committed two more fouls trying to guard Lakovic, who drained all four free throws for an 11-7 Krka lead. Boris Gnjidic got to the line for another pair then finished a nice play as the lead climbed to-19:10) with 3-30 left. Buducnost's hard defense led to 8 personal fouls in the first 7 minutes, and then Mate Skelin joined Lakovic and Gnjidic in pushing the lead to 12 points, 22-10. New Buducnost coach Darko Ruso shuffled his rotations due to fouls and Krka's scoring ease, but to no avail. Krka kept easing ahead, by 29-14 with 90 seconds left and then the cherries on top of the cake of the first quarter, a Lakovic three-pointer followed with a reverse dunk by Bennett Davison. As Krka's lead went up, so did Buducnost's foul total, with team captain Dragan Vujcevic now taking a technical in protest. Krka finished off the last possession of the quarter to open a gaping 36-17 lead before ther delirious fans.
Although Gnjidic missed a three-pointer to open the second quarter, little else changed. After 2 minutes, Krka had doubled Buducnost's score, 40-20, while Kuzmanovic was up to his fourth foul for the visitors. All of the Krka players were playing well, but Skelin, Lakovic and Davison were over the top as the shots kept falling and the advantage just kept growing, to 48-22 before Russo¿s time out in the 14th minute. Lakovic now went to the bench for a rest and Davison with his third foul, allowing a Vujcevic three-pointer to key a little 2-8 run by Buducnost to 50-30. But Aleksander Capin and Skelin soon had Krka surging again to its biggest margin so far, 58-32 after 18 minutes. Almost every Krka player had scored already and Marko Samanic raised the score in the last minute to 63-35, only a travelling call on the last possession preventing the home team from holding a 30-point halftime lead. Amazingly, Krka already had four scorers in double figures: Skelin and Lakovic with 15 points each, Davison and Gnjidic with 10 each. Igor Rakocevic had 11 for Buducnost.
Marko Samanic opened the second half boosting the difference to 30 points, 65-35. However Buducnost showed better performance in the begining of the second half and dropped the deficit to 67-45. The visitors got it down further, to 21 points at 71-50, before Lakovic stepped up big with a three-pointer plus free throw for 75-50. In the last two minutes of the quarter, Krka organised again but could do no more than keep the score at 82-55 at the end of three quarters. Lakovic christened the last quarter with his third three-pointer and Krka led by 30 again, 85-55. Buducnost was trying hard but only Rakocevic could score and the lead was at 90-64 when Krka's fans started smelling the century mark. In the last two minutes, young Aleksandar Capin gave them what they wanted, a triple-digit point total and 27-point victory that sends Krka soaring into an end-of-season showdown at Pau-Orthez.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002