Tau Ceramica bounced back from its first Group A loss by downing Union Olimpija 70-87 on the road in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Wednesday. Tau first road win raised its record to 2-1, while Olimpija dropped to 0-3. Predrag Drobnjak led the winners with 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 8 rebounds. Tiago Splitter had 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Luis Scola added 12 points and Kornel David 10 as Tau's big men combined for 61 points total. Jimmy Oliver of Olimpija scored 25 points while making 7 of 13 three-pointers and Teemu Rannikko had 14 for the hosts. Tau used its strength in the paint to get a 16-25 lead after 10 minutes, while Drobnjak shined in the second quarter to keep a 39-46 margin at halftime. Oliver nailed 4 triples in the third quarter to bring Olimpija within 58-61, but Tau's defense allowed 2 points in the opening 6 minutes of the fourth quarter, enough to assure a victory.
Olimpija coach Pino Grdovic placed Toni Dijan in the starting lineup and it immediately paid off, as he followed Oliver's opening shot, a three-pointer, with a putback basket for a 5-0 lead. David got Tau going with a basket in close as the guests adjusted their man-to-man defense. Prigioni fed Scola with a behind-the-back assist and then found Hansen for a corner three-pointer for Tau's first lead, 5-7. Olimpija struggled to score now, while Prigioni's third assist found Scola underneath. Dijan slashed for a layup and Josko Poljak scored in the paint, but Scola immediately matched both baskets for a 9-13 Tau lead. Teemu Rannikko stepped up with a three-point play that drew Scola's third foul and sent him to the benc. But Tau kept looking inside, where Kornel David followed a jumper with free throws, while Drobnjak added a three-point play for a 14-20 margin. Rannikko shined with a floating bank shot, but Hansen answered from downtown as Tau was ahead 16-25 after 10 minutes.
Drobnjak opened the second quarter with a long jumper. Olimpija did not find answers on offense until Halperin scored from downtown to make it 19-28. He then followed Hasan Rizvic's tip-in with a driving layup, while Oliver capped a 10-2 run with a corner triple that cut the difference to 26-30, forcing a Tau timeout. Drobnjak stepped up again for the guests with a layup, but an unsportman foul by Jordi Grimau helped Rannikko and Evtimov to bring Olimpija within 29-32 midway through the second quarter. An unstoppable Drobnjak made another long jumper and Sergi Vidal nailed a triple to give Tau some breathing room again, at 29-37. But Olimpija fired back as Rizvic made a four-meter shot and Oliver scored from downtown for a 34-40 scoreboard. It took yet another triple by the red-hot Oliver to keep Tau's advantage down to 39-46 at halftime.
Scola came back after the break and immediately nailed a jumper to which David added a layup for a 39-50 Tau lead. Halperin hit a driving layup and Rannikko a big three, but Casey Jacobsen matched it for Tau. A low post basket by Rizvic and Oliver's fourth three-pointer kept Olimpija close 48-55. Oliver kept shooting and hitting triples, and two more of them with Evtimov's bsket inside soon ahd the difference down to just 3 points, 58-61, after 27 minutes. Splitter came to the rescue for Tau with a three-point play that Drobnjak followed with consecutive layups, forcing an Olimpija timeout at 58-68. When Oliver made another three and Halperin a six-meter jumper, Ukic beat the buzzer with his own triple as Tau held onto a 63-73 edge after 30 minutes.
Rannikko tried to get Olimpija back into the game with a tip-in and a big offensive rebound, but Tau was fully in charge. As Drobnjak made a mid-range jumper and Ukic free throws, Tau's defense did the rest. Olimpija went scoreless for 5 long minutes, while Hansen buried a corner three to make it a 15-point game, 65-80, after a 0-7 run. Olimpija called timeout but Tau kept its game plan: strong defense and inside offense. Scola made a layup and Drobnjak dunked to seal the outcome, a well-deserved Tau victory that left Olimpija at the bottom of the Group A standings.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005