The Slovenian derby of the ULEB Cup eighthfinals ended spectacularly on Tuesday as visiting Krka Novo Mesto won 78-79 at Pivovarna Lasko on Aleksandar Capin's basket with 4 seconds left. That can only point to a dramatic finish to their series whin it is decided in seven days at Novo Mesto. Krka played its role of favorite team, but had to sweat to pull out the victory after trailing by 10 late in the third quarter. Capin's driving shot in the closing second decided it for the guests. Krka were led by Jamie Arnold with 24 points. Marko Maravic added 15 and Slavko Duscak and Boris Gnjidic bagged 13 each. For Pivovarna, Kenyan Weaks was top scorer with 20 points, while Smiljan Pavic hit 16 and Baisa Radunovic helped with 13.
The first 10 minutes were rather balanced, except for the first 3 minutes, after which Lasko was ahead 8-4 with the help of 4 early turnovers forced on Krka. The visitors' coach, Neven Spahija, called the first timeout to settle down Krka, and after that, both teams took constant turns with two-point leads. Krka improved its play and with 5 straight points from Slavko Duscak to tie on 13-13.Its first lead for Krka arrived on Arnold's hands, 16-17, just like the two more to following, 18-19 and 20-21, for the guests. The quarter ended on the word of Lasko, however, as Balsa Radunovic's buzzer-beater gave a minimum lead to the hosts after the first 10 minutes, 22-21.
This tight balance would keep up through most of the second quarter, too. The first team who try a getaway was Krka on a triple by Arnold goo for a 26-29 lead. But Pivovarna answered right away. Forward Ermal Kuqo stepped on court and hit 4 straight points that sparked an 8-0 run to a 34-29 Lasko advantage. Krka put on a zone defense that stopped the avalanche. First, a pair of points by Duscak and then a three-pointer by Arnold gave Krka a tie again, 36-36, but Dragan Dojcin scored again on the buzzer to give Lasko a 40-38 edge at the break.
The first warning arrived in the third quarter. With a shorter but also faster five on-court, Lasko took the first wide leads with Kuqo and Radunovic as forwards, and Smiljan Pavic at center, all three managing to control the boards and show offensive resourcefulness. The lead reached 10 points twice - at 52-42 and 58-48 - and by the end of the third quarter, Krka was only able to cut it by a basket to 63-55. But Krka's big reaction would come in the final quarter with a much more aggressive defense and with Arnold shooting strikes. Little by little, Krka chipped away Boris Gnjidic's basket tied it 69-69. Lasko coach Predrag Kruscic called a timeout, but the bigger experience of Krka's players turned out to be decisive. The game entered its last 3 minutes with Krka holding a five-point lead, 70-75, but the game was not over yet. With 5 points by Kenyan Weaks, the hosts jumped ahead again, 76-75. After baskets by Arnold and Radunovic for 78-77, and a charging called on Krka, the hosts had the victory in their hands. But Weaks stepped out of bounds and Krka had the last ball with 22 seconds to go. An excellent penetration by Aleksandar Capin with 4 seconds to go gave Krka the win, as Primoz Brolih's shot missed at the buzzer for Pivovarna.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003