After defeats in its previous two games, Zadar managed to get back on the winning track and retake a share of the Group D lead with a 90-80 home win against Ricoh Astronauts on Tuesday. The road to the victory was made in the first quarter when the players who came off the bench with the scoreboard tied changed the course of the game. Zadar now has a 4-2 record, good for a tie with Metis Varese atop Group D, while Ricoh Astronauts fell to 2-4 and a tie with Cholet at the bottom of the table. Hrvoje Perincic led the winners with 17 points, Branimir Longin led the bench boys with 15, Marko Popovic added 11 and Jakov Vladovic 10. Astronauts got 31 points from Joe Spinks and 25 from newcomer Jeffrey Bolton.
Zadar managed to open the game strong thanks to Perincic and Popovic, taking a 12-7 edge after 4 minutes. But Bolton, in his debut, scored 6 points in a row to give the guests their first lead, 12-13. That's when four new players were sent on court for Krka, and that move make the difference. Only 2 minutes later the players from the bench - Marko Banic, Michael Meeks, Vladovic and Longin - made a 13-0 run that Perincic added to with another three-pointer that made the scoreboard 31-18 after 10 minutes.
The home team continued to play very aggressive on defense with a good contribution from Vladovic, the young playmaker. With his three-pointer and assist to Longin, Zadar added another 6 points to 37-18. Ricoh Astronauts tried to get back in to the game shooting three-pointers, and though Spinks and Mindaugas Burneik were successful, Zadar held on to its lead at 46-26. The troubles for the guests didn't end there as Popovic replaced Vladovic. Another pair of three-pointers gave Zadar a 21-point lead, and 2 points from another Zadar bench player, Toni Dijan, made it reach 22, at 58-36. A three-pointer by Marko Samanic gave Zadar and incredible 61-41 lead at the end of the half.
Playing a zone defense after intermission, the guests managed to reduce the score difference in the 24th minute to 64-48, but Longin shoots Zadar back to a 20 points difference, 68-48. Zadar coach Danijel Jusup used this period to bring in other players from the bench, allowing his starters to rest. Only Spinks kept his team going during the quarter, which ended 79-58. The first 4 minutes of the final quarter passed without Zadar making a point while Spinks and Bolton shot the deficit down to 79-65. A glimpse of hope came in the next minute when Bolton reduced the score with a three-pointer down to 81-68. However, with two fast breaks and two slam dunks by Sime Spralja and Hrvoje Perincic, Zadar took its lead up to 20 points difference again, 88-68, and resolved the question of the winner.
Tuesday, December 3, 2002