RheinEnergie Cologne is back to winning in Group C with a solid 79-74 defeat of visiting Estudiantes Madrid at home on Tuesday. Rhein Energie was led by guard Drazan Tomic with a game-high 26 points, followed by center Stephen Arigbabu with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Cologne's great team game was evident in 14 assists on the stats sheet to just 6 for Estudiantes. The German hosts took a 28-points halftime but had to hold on for dear life in the face of an Estudiantes rally. The visitors got a double-double contribution of 22 points and 14 rebounds from forward Felipe Reyes. Guards Andres Miso and Corey Brewer added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Cologne rises back to top of the standing sharing 4-1 record with Krka, which lost at previously winless Chalon. Estudiantes fell to 2-3.
The game had two faces, as RheinEnergie surprised the guests with great intensity. Soon after tipoff, the hosts already owned the game with big double-figure leads, like 16-4 after 5 minutes. The next 5 only added to the impression of an impending blowout as the quarter closed with RheinEnergie ahead by 16 points, 27-11. Estudiantes did not find the way to score, and suffered inside playing of Cologne too much to try to step back into the game. The Spanish team wasn't able to compete throughout the first half, and the slide only got worse when Tomic stepped on court. Tomic scored 8 points straight to give Cologne a 21-point lead after 15 minutes, 39-18. That would convert into an enormous 28 points at halftime, 52-24.
Both teams stepped back in the third quarter with different attitudes. RheinEnergie tried to manage the lead a bit too early, and ended up making many mistakes on court, mainly in shot selection, as the hosts' field goal percentage dipped to 36%, 24 for 66. Estudiantes, who had travelled to Cologne without forward Carlos Jimenez and with newcomer Brian Sallier instead of injured Adam Keefe, tried to play tough defense. Now, the guests put on an 8-24 run thanks to the outstanding performance of Reyes. Estudiantes was back into the game with 10 minutes to go at 60-48, but Cologne managed to stop the comeback in the first five minutes of the last period, thanks to Arigbabu and center Geert Hammink exploiting a couple of offensive rebounds. Cologne led 67-55 with 5 minutes to go, and when Miso made the last comeback effort for Estudiantes, time was running out. Cologne managed till the end with Tomic's outstanding performance from foul line, 11 for 11, to clinch a big win in front of the home crowd.
Tuesday, November 12, 2002