Despite all its ups, downs, comings, goings, insults and injuries of late, Krka let its fans in Novo Mesto, Slovenia know that their team was still on a mission in the Euroleague when it whipped visiting Montepaschi 86-74 on Thursday. The victory was Krka's first in difficult Group B, where its record is now 1-3. Montepaschi, one of Europe's hottest teams until Thursday, dropped to 2-2. A week after it scored a record low 35 points in a loss at CSKA Moscow, Krka readied its scoring touch for the home fans. Sharpshooter Slavko Duscak got Krka going early and finished with a team-high 21 points. His points were complemented by the inside duo of Rick Rickert, with 14 points, and Marton Bader, with 13. Point guard Marko Antonijevic added 12, including key baskets in the final quarter, which Krka opened with an 8-0 run to re-take the lead. Bootsy Thornton led Montepaschi with 14 points. David Andersen and Dave Vanterpool added 13 each, Dusan Vukcevic and Giacomo Galanda 12 each.
The game started with a three-pointer from Giacomo Galanda, but far from feeling intimidated a week after their blowout loss at Moscow, the Krka players struck back. The reaction started with an answer from long distance off the hand of Marko Antonijevic, and from there the local fans could enjoy a good game. Duscak took responsibility upon himself, scoring 9 points as Krka raced to a 15-11 lead in 5 minutes. That was already more points than his team had scored in any single quarter against CSKA. Thanks to Giacomo Galanda and David Andersen, Montepaschi almost caught up at 19-18, but Krka newcomer Srdjan Subotic entered the game to nail his first three-pointer. After Montepaschi failed some free throws, a basket from youngster Jure Balazic was enough to give Krka the lead after 10 minutes, 26-21.
Bootsy Thornton opened the scoring for Montepaschi in the second quarter. Soon after that Krka center Rick Rickert committed his third foul and and David Vanterpool once again drew Montepaschi within 1 point, 28-27. In minute 15, Skansi got called for a technical foul, but again Montepaschi missed free throws and was shooting only 6-for-13 at the line until then. Still, Dusan Vuckevic rose up for the visitors and landed a three-pointer that knotted the scoreboard at 30-30 . Another Krka youngster, center Martin Mihajlovic, helped the hosts stay ahead with 4 consecutive points, but that wasn't enough because Mikalis Kakiouzis gave Montepaschi the lead again and Vukcevic padded it with another three-pointer. But Krka had confidence, and this time it was Bader sinking 4 in the last minute to secure Krka another lead, 44-41, after 20 minutes.
Both teams seemed nervous at the start of the third quarter. With points now from Galanda and Andersen, Montepaschi almost caught Krka twice again, the last time at 53-51 after 23 minutes. Galanda was using his experience against the young Krka big men and proved too tough to handle for the hosts through the middle of the third quarter, when he tied the game 53-53 while reaching 9 points himself. A couple minutes later, Vukcevic made a basket that evened the score again, at 57-57. Before the quarter could finish, the visitors made their biggest move yet. Midaugas Zukauskas put Montepaschi ahead 57-59 and Thornton put his team's stamp on a bigger lead, 59-62, at the end of 30 minutes.
Krka started the last quarter by pressing, and the result of that was evident with an 8-0 run that put the locals firmly back in front, 67-62, on a shot from downtown by Rickert. Yet another Krka newcomer, Clarence Gilbert, added his first points, and then Antonijevic stabilized Krka's lead at 72-65 with his second three-pointer of the night. Antonijevic also scored all 3 points from free throw line when Vukcevic foul him another shot from the arc, so that 4 minutes before the end, Krka had its first major lead, 75-67. With momentum on their side now, Rickert and Bader added 4 points to the Krka lead, 79-67. The game was decided when Duscak nailed his second three-pointer about 2 minutes before the end, making it 82-68. Krka's defense deserved some of the credit for having held Montepaschi to 6 points over 8 minutes, and even though Galanda lowered the final margin, it was clear before that how much Krka deserved its first Euroleague victory of the season.
Thursday, November 27, 2003