Tau Ceramica will start 2007 as the uncontested leader in Group A after edging Dynamo 78-82 on the road Wednesday in Moscow, Russia. Tau stays as the Group A leader with a 8-1 record and handed Dynamo its first-ever loss at the new Krilatskoe Arena, where it had won all its Euroleague and Russian League games before Wednesday. Dynamo fell to 5-4 but will not lose third place, although it may be tied there going into the new year. Luis Scola led the winners with 24 points, making 8 of 12 two-pointers and 8 of 9 free throws. Serkan Erdogan added 20 points while hitting 5 of 9 three-pointers. Igor Rakocevic had 17 while Pablo Prigioni scored 11 points and dished 7 assists for Tau. Obinna Ekezie, replacing injured Lazaros Papadopoulos for Dynamo, finished with 16 points, hitting 8 of 9 two-point shots. Bojan Popovic added 14 points while Antonis Fotsis, Sergey Monya and Travis Hansen each had 12 for the hosts. Tau led for the best part of the game by modest margins, until Fotsis and Monya gave Dynamo a 74-72 in the final 2 minutes. Prigioni hit the go-ahead triple while Rakocevic and Prigioni combined to land 6 of 6 free throws in the final 17 seconds to securd a tough road win for Tau.
Popovic put Dynamo up 2-0 as Tau went scoreless in the opening 2 minute, until Scola hit free throws that Dmitry Domani matched with an acrobatic layup. Kaya Peker stepped up with a basket in the low post for the visitors, but Ezekie erased it with a short jumper. Scola replied with a fast breaklayup but Fotsis and Ekezie kept Dynamo ahead, 9-6. Scola and Rakocevic made consecutive baskets to give Tau its first lead, 9-10, after 6 minutes. Popovic shined with a layup-plus-free throw but Erdogan and Rakocevic answered from downtown to make Dynamo call timeout at 12-16. Erdogan buried another three-pointer to cap a 0-9 Tau run while Hansen nailed a jumper to get the hosts within 14-19. Scola added another layup but a three-pointer by Eddie Gill and a put-back layup by Sergey Monya got Dynamo within 19-23 at the end of the first quarter.
Erdogan stayed on fire and nailed consecutive three-pointers at the start of the second quarter to provide Tau's first double-digit lead, 19-29. Monya tried to change things with free throws while Ekezie added a left-handed layup and Yuri Vasiliyev a baseline jumper to force a Tau timeout at 25-29. Ezekie scored around the basket and Monya added free throws to tie 29-29 midway through the second quarter. Tau could not break Dynamo's zone defense as Popovic capped a 13-0 run with a triple that put Dynamo ahead again, 32-29. Scola rescued Tau with 6 unanswered points in a 0-8 run that Rakocevic finished with an off-balanced jumper as Tau surged in front again, 32-37. Ekezie tried to change things with a dunk, but Scola scored again and fed Erdogan for a late three-pointer to push Tau to a 38-44 lead at halftime.
Peker's jump hook and free throws by Vasilyev got both teams going after the break. When Erdogan scored in penetration, Fotsis replied with a dunk to get Dynamo within 42-48. Tau kept full control and had enough patience on offense, but its shooters were off-target now, while Hansen buried a three-pointer to get Dynamo even closer, 45-48. Splitter helped Tau with a tip-in, as Tau, and after Ezekie's short jumper fell for Dynamo, Prigioni answered from downtown to make it 47-53. Scola had a huge block on Ekezie but Fotsis scored in penetration to keep Dynamo in the game, 49-53. Scola - who else? - buried a short jumper and soon finished a two-on-one opportunity, but Domani buried a corner triple to keep Dynamo close at 52-57. Scola finished the quarter with a jump hook over Ezekie to keep Tau comfortably on top, 53-59 after 30 minutes.
Ezekie dunked to give Dynamo hope early in the fourth quarter but again Prigioni hit from downtown, keeping Tau ahead 55-62. Hansen took over then with a fastbreak dunk and a three-pointer to force a Tau timeout at 60-62. Dynamo stayed intense on defense and, despite free throws that Erdogan, saw Popovic tie it up 64-64 with a layup-plus-free throw before Monya buried a turnaround jumper for Dynamo's first lead of the half, 66-65. Tau was ready, as Splitter nailed a baseline jumper to ignite a 0-7 run that Rakocevic punctuated with a sideline triple, putting the guests on top, 66-72. Dynamo was far from done, however, as Monya hit from downtown while Fotsis followed a layup with a critical triple at 74-72, causing a Tau timeout with 91 seconds left. The key came with 1:08 to play, when to beat the shot clock, Prigioni fired in a key three-pointer. Monya missed in the other end before Splitter made the first of 2 free throws with 21 seconds remaining, 74-76. He also rebounded the miss, allowing Rakocevic to go to the line and make 2 foul shots for a 74-78 edge. Popovic scored a quick layup with 14 seconds to go that Prigioni erased with free throws. Fotsis gave Dynamo hope with a jumper, after which the hosts immediately fouled Rakocevic. When he hit both attempts with 4.4 seconds, Tau had enough to walk off with a big 78-82 road win.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006