Union Olimpija rounded a historical night in club history by edging mighty CSKA Moscow 74-72 in front of a sellout crowd in Tivoli Arena, Ljubljana on Wednesday night. Both teams are now tied in Group A with a 2-1 record. Marko Milic became the game hero by hitting the game-winning driving layup with 0.8 seconds to go in a special game for Union Olimpija, who honoured European basketball legend Ivo Daneu by retiring his number in a pre-game ceremony. Jasmin Hukic paced the winners with 23 points on 6-of-10 three-pointers. Milic added 14 while Goran Dragic had 11 for Olimpija. Matjaz Smodis had 18 points for CSKA in his home country while David Andersen added 10 for the guests. Smodis made a free throw to give Olimpija a 63-68 edge with 2 minutes to go. Hukic and Milic combined for 9 points down the stretch, as even when Holden tied the game with 20.5 seconds remaining, Milic scored over Smodis to win it for Olimpija.
Olimpija opted to use Mirza Begic in the starting lineup to go against Aleksey Savrasenko. Hukic opened the scoring with a big triple, but a baseline jumper by Holden and a driving layup by Ramunas Siskauskas gave CSKA a 3-4 edge. Hukic insisted from downtown and Begic dunked it for a 8-6 CSKA lead. Trajan Langdon shined with a driving layup but Milic followed foul shots with a layup to keep Olimpija ahead, 12-8. David Andersen found a layup-plus-foul, as CSKA found its scoring rhythm. Theo Papaloukas fed Nikos Zisis for an easy basket while Siskauskas hit a triple for a 14-16 CSKA edge. Taylor scored inside and Hukic fired in his third triple, making Olimpija regain the lead at 19-16. Smodis made free throws off a CSKA timeout and Marcus Goree added a long two-pointer. A jump hook by Milic and a driving layup by Jan Mocnik allowed Olimpija to keep a 23-22 edge after 10 minutes.
A red hot Hukic nailed another three-pointer, as Olimpija stayed focused at both ends. Goree shined with a put-back layup while Papaloukas beat the hosts' zone defense with a triple that made CSKA regain the lead, 26-27. Olimpija called timeout and Sasa Doncic hit a mid-range shot that Savrasenko matched with free throws. Dragic took over with an electric driving layup and Begic set the crowd on fire with a reverse put-back dunk for a 32-29 Olimpija edge. Siskauskas and Smodis combined for 4 quick points but once again Begic and yet another outstanding driving layup by Dragic kept Olimpija ahead, 37-33. Holden stepped up with a triple but he didn't find much help now, forcing coach Ettore Messina to call timeout. Smodis shined with a layup-plus-foul but Hukic tied the game, 40-40, with free throws. Smodis hit his trademark triple from the top of the key for a 40-43 CSKA edge at the half.
CSKA improved its defense right after the break, but Olimpija stayed intense, backed by an incredible crowd. Both teams went scoreless for more than 3 minutes, exchanging misses and turnovers until Hukic - who else? - nailed a triple for a 43-43 tie. Holden had managed to shut down Dragic, while he and Smodis made free throws for a 43-47 CSKA edge. Olimpija called timeout but CSKA kept its momentum going. The hosts could not find the ay to the basket, even missing open shots now. Zisis hit another foul shot but Miha Zupan answered from downtown to keep Olimpija within 46-48. Andersen buried a fadeaway jumper that Booker matched with a baseline shot. Zisis found space for a driving layup but Zupan fired in a triple to tie the game, 52-52. Langdon joined the three-point festival while Taylor nailed a fadeaway shot for a 54-55 Olimpija deficit after 30 minutes.
Langdon kept pacing CSKA with a power layup, as the guests controlled the game with their trademark man-to-man defense. Smodis hit a three-pointer from the left wing and Goree dunked it, good for a 54-62 CSKA edge. Olimpija called a timeout to fix its many problems in offense. Dragic hit a triple but Langdon banked in a running jumper to keep CSKA ahead, 57-64. Dragic provided a highlight with a big dunk and Milic soon copied him for a 61-65 Olimpija deficit. Andersen made free throws that Milic erased with a reverse layup. Olimpija found a go-to guy in Hukic, who made free throws and nailed an incredible triple to tie the game, 68-68, with 1:40 to go. CSKA opted to foul on Doncic, who did not miss from the line to complete the Olimpija comeback, 70-68, with 65 seconds remaining. Smodis was next on the line and did not miss, 70-70 and even when Milic scored in the low post, Holden tied the game again at 72-72 with 20.5 seconds to go. It all came down to the final play, as Milic scored over Smodis to become the game hero with 0.8 seconds to go. Siskauskas hit the rim on a desperation midcourt shot at the buzzer, allowing all Olimpija fans to erupt in joy and celebrate a big win in a historical night for the club.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007