The debut of a new coach served to end the frustrations at home of Pau-Orthez, which registered an 83-77 win over visiting Union Olimpija on Thursday for its first victory in Group E. Pau's revenge for two regular season losses against Olimpija made new boss Didier Gadou a winner in his first game on the bench . Olimpija had been ahead most of the first half, but speed and tough defense allowed Pau to catch up and take over in the final minutes. As such, Pau's record improved to 1-2, while Olimpija slipped to the same mark, missing a chance to join group co-leaders Efes Pilsen and Skipper Bologna, both 2-1. Dragan Lukovski led the winners with 18 points, including 3 of 3 triples, while Laurent Foirest and Florent Pietrus added 14 points each. Pietrus continued his outstanding play by adding 12 rebounds for a double-double. Artur Drozdov also bagged 10 points for Pau. Simon Petrov posted 26 points on amazing 7-for-9 three-point shooting to lead Olimpija's scorers, while Dzenan Rahimic registered a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds.
After a 4-0 start for Pau, Petar Dujmovic inaugurated Olimpija's scoreboard with a mid-range jumper. Rahimic tacked on 4 straight points to tie the game at 6-6 before Petrov's first triple went in for 8-11 and the guests took command with an iron grip. Vladimer Boisa added another triple for 8-14 as Olimpija started giving Pau trouble on both ends of the court. Frederic Fauthoux tried to cut the deficit down with a bomb but another triple by Saso Ozbolt and 2 more points by Rahimic put Olimpija way ahead, at 12-21. Pietrus brought Pau back within 3 points, but Rahimic scored again to secure a 20-25 lead for Olimpija after 10 minutes.
The second quarter started with a two-minute scoring drought until Petrov stepped up with consecutive triples to put Olimpija ahead by double-digits, 20-31. A hook by Rahimic maintained the lead at 22-33. The game turned, however, when Pau found its outside shooting touch. Three straight triples by Laurent Foirest, Fauthoux and Dragan Lukovski plus a layup by Mate Skelin gave the hosts an 11-0 run that brought them to within 33-35. Pau defended in a 2-3 zone which proved effective, and Pietrus scored a free throw for a 34-35 scoreboard. Rahimic stopped the avalanche with 2 free throws, but a basket by Pietrus, who was rebounding like mad on the offensive end, and a free throw by Jeryl Sasser tied the game, 37-37. A new triple by Drozdov finally put Pau in the lead again, 40-39, but Rahimic reached 16 points with a pair of foul shots that got Olimpija a 40-42 edge at halftime.
After resumption, Rahimic scored the first basket, too, and Petrov soon added his fourth triple on five attempts for a 42-47 Olimpija lead. Drozdov replied with a triple of his own to pull Pau to within 45-49, and now Olimpija couldn't find its touch from the long range. Pau found its rhythm. Pietrius scored a three-point play while teenager Johan Petro hit a mid-range jumper to complete the 8-0 run that ended with Pau ahead 50-49. Rahimic put on his own show, however, with a reverse layup, but this time Pau managed to stay ahead, 57-53, thanks to Lukovski's points from beyond the arc and Petro in the paint. The period ended in a spectacular fashion when Aniekan Archibong flew in to slam an offensive rebound that brought the crowd to its feet and Pau to a 59-57 advantage after 30 minutes.
The last period would remain tight through the first possessions. Petrov had a stellar night from 6.25 meters and scored his fifth triple to put Olimpija ahead again. Aloysius Anagonye added points to make it 61-65 for the guests, but Pau never gave up and improved the defense once more. Lukovski got a steal and finished it with a transition layup and Mate Skelin hit the three-point play for a 68-65 Pau lead. The game became a three-point shootout as Dujmovic scored twice from deep for Olimpija, but Foirest and Lukovski matched him to give the lead back to Pau, 76-73. Then fatal blow arrived for Olimpija as Rahimic was fouled out. With 90 seconds to go, Lukovski scored 2 free throws for 78-73, whole at the other end, Petrov chose the worst time to miss a triple. With Pau looking to run out the clock, a Skelin offensive rebound with 45 seconds to go was decisive. With that possession, Foirest scored a layup 15 seconds later which sealed the win for Pau.
Thursday, March 18, 2004