Pamesa hung on for deal life to its 21-point first-leg margin and, despite losing 93-80 at Zadar, advanced
Pamesa Valencia suffered an unexpected wide 93-80 road loss at Zadar in Croatia on Tuesday, but the 21 points gained in the first leg of their quarterfinal were enough for the Spaniards to crawl into the semifinals. Pamesa showed what being an experienced team means: Beside all the talent, experience can make the difference in this kind of do-or-die situation. For that is exactly what Pamesa faced as Zadar was able to build a solid 23-points lead right before the end of the third quarter. But then the experience of players like Victor Luengo and Pedro Robles, who led Pamesa with 14 points each, sparked a fourth-quarter comeback that featured excellent 7-for-11 shooting (63%) from the field in the last 10 minutes. Pamesa had double-digit scoring also from Dejan Tomasevic, whose 13 points were precious, Fabricio Oberto, who hit 12, and Federico Kammerichs, who added 11. Not to be forgotten, Nacho Rodilla scored his 6 key points in the most difficult moments of the game for his team. Zadar bids farewell to the ULEB Cup with a great performance before its home crowd, even if it's a losing effort in terms of the series: Marko Popovic and Mladen Erjavec, who both hit 17 points, kept the dream alive until the end, together with Marko Samanic, who contributed 16, Damir Tvrdic, who scored 13, Michael Meeks and Hrvoje Perincic, who contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
Zadar started with great intensity and took early leads thanks to great team playing. The entire starting five scored to give the hosts a 16-8 lead in the first quarter. Alejandro Montecchia stopped the slide for Pamesa with a three pointer, but Zadar found good contributions by Meeks and Popovic (who hit 9 points) to close the quarter with 7 points to defend, 26-19. The hosts had hit 8 of 11 shots to that point. Newcomer Michael McDonald stepped on court for Zadar and scored 4 points as the lead climbed to 31-21. Despite a big rebounding disadvantage in the first two quarters (19-5 was Zadar's lead at the end of the first half), Luengo with two triples tried to keep Pamesa into the game. But the guests suffered bad field goals (10 for 26, 38%) otherwise. After two mistakes, Tvrdic sparked Zadar with 3 free throws, while the whole team opened the court very well and deepened its lead with Samanic's 11 points. Perincic buried a three pointer, Erjavec added a couple baskets and Zadar flew away with 14 points to defend at intermission, 50-36. Pamesa tried to go to Oberto, its first player reaching double digits in scoring, but a little flurry to within 53-42 died quickly. Zadar responded with 8-2 run with Erjavec and Samanic once again leading their team to a 61-44 advantage. The run did not stop, and Pamesa was still struggling in offense, with little contribution from its bench players. Meeks hit another jumper for 63-44, reducing to only 2 points the difference in the point advantage. Pamesa coach Paco Olmos was forced to call a timeout, from which his team emerged with the right attitude. Tomasevic stopped the slide with a two-plus-one play for 63-47. Zadar re-gained confidence and made an important 7-0 run with 3 points by Tvrdic and 2 each by Perincic and Popovic, to take its bigges lead at 70-47. That's when Rodilla tried to take his team by the hand, and right before the end of the third period sparked a 0-6 run. Popovic hit a couple free throws to give back Zadar a 19-point lead, 72-53, after 30 minutes.
Luengo started the final quarter scoring 5 points to give a breather to Pamesa, but Meeks was back hitting jumpers for a 74-58 Zadar edge. Pamesa managed to avoid sinking thanks to Oberto, but still had 16 points to make up with 4 minutes to go, 78-62. It was Alejandro Montecchia's time, now, and Pamesa's guard hit 4 key points that, together with a layup scored by Kammerichs, reduced the gap to 12 points at 80-68. Zadar's field goals started decreasing a little, just as its energy was running out. Three points in a row by Meeks from the line gave the hosts renewed hope at 83-68 with 3 minutes left. However, Montecchia grabbed a key offensive rebound and gave Kammerichs the chance to score a heavy layup for Pamesa, forcing Zadar to call timeout at 83-70. Tvrdic hit a jumper right after the time out, but the veteran Luengo hit a huge three to make it 85-73. Zadar did not surrender, and even in the last minute tried to take the pass for the semis. Perincic hit 4 points, Tvrdic and Samanic 2 more, while Tomasevic and Robles fixed the score at 93-77. Tvrdic missed a three pointer that could have re-opened the hosts' hopes with a few seconds to play, but Robles grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Meeks. The hero of Game 1 had a calm hand at the line now, and his 2 free throws gave the qualification to Pamesa.
Tuesday, March 4, 2003