Reyer Venice hands Partizan first loss
Partizan NIS Belgrade will need to wait to secure a 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 berth after Umana Reyer Venice silenced Stark Arena with a convincing 69-83 win on Tuesday night. The Italian champs improved to 4-2 in Group C while Partizan remained on top at 5-1. Reyer trailed 39-37 at halftime, but an amazing defensive display in the third quarter, switching zone and man-to-man defenses, prevented the hosts from scoring a single field goal and was good to build a double-digit margin and never look back. Mitchell Watt led the way for the winners with an all-around showing of 27 points on 11-of-12 two-point shooting, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a performance index rating of 37. Austin Daye and Jeremy Chappell scored 13 each and Julyan Stone was close to a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists for the winners. Rashawn Thomas netted 18 points in defeat.
The visitors stunned Partizan in the early going with a 0-9 run behind a dominating Watt in the paint. The hosts needed 3 minutes to get their first bucket, but their slow defensive transition allowed the visitors to keep a 5-13 edge midway through the first quarter. An urgent timeout by Andrea Trinchieri didn’t change the trend immediately, as Watt kept rocking in the paint with 10 of the first 17 Reyer points for a 10-19 lead after 7 minutes. Rade Zagorac and Marcus Paige came to the rescue with back-to-back threes, followed by an acrobatic bank shot by Zanis Peiners to bring the hosts within 18-21 at the end of the first quarter. An unintended own basket on a ball deflection by Reyer and another field goal by Peiners right after the break gave Partizan its first lead of the night, 22-21, as Thomas started his own show and boosted a 9-0 run for the hosts to extend it to 32-25 midway through the second quarter. Reyer resisted, though, feeding Daye and Watt inside before Michael Bramos came up from deep to make it a 1-point game with 3 minutes to go. Ariel Filloy connected twice with Watt to tie it at 37-37 entering the last minute, but free throws by Nemanja Gordic were good enough to allow Partizan to keep a slim margin, 39-37, at halftime.
Gasper Vidmar led the way for Reyer at the beginning of the second half with a basket and a free throw followed by an assist for a corner three by Stone to return the lead to his team, 42-43. Even though the visitors were already in the foul bonus 1 minute into the third quarter, Partizan didn’t take advantage of it to solve its offensive problems, as none of its players were able to score a single basket from the field for the entire period. Reyer didn’t miss the chance and built a double-digit margin behind the trio of Filloy, Daye and Watt and a switching zone defense to collapse the hosts' offense and reach the last quarter ahead 48-62. William Mosley and Thomas tried to reactivate Partizan with a couple of buckets early after the break, but Coach De Raffaele saw it coming and called a timely timeout to wake his team up. It was for good, as Stone showed up later with 5 points in a 3-9 run that extended the margin to 55-71 with 6 minutes to go and cooled the local fans off. Mosley kept insisting, though, but his effort was nothing against a red-hot Jeremy Chappel, who followed a pair of free throws with back-to-back triples to make it 60-79 with less than 3 minutes to go, burying all Partizan hope.
Mitchell Watt had the game any player could dream of. He dominated the paint and delivered a career-high 37 performance index rating, staying almost perfect from the field. He hit 11 of his 12 attempts, as he recorded his first-and-only miss with 2 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Nothing from the field
Partizan was the opposite of Watt in the third quarter, as the home side was unable to score a single field over that period. All of its nine quarter points came from the free-throw line, missing 6 two-point shots and 3 three-points attempts to let Reyer scape with a 14-point lead entering the last period.
Umana Reyer Venice's head coach De Raffaele prepared a switching zone defense before the game that his team used with amazing results, especially in the second half. At the end of the game, De Rafaelle congratulated his players for that and defined their performance as "tactically close to perfection".
Partizan NIS Belgrade will try to bounce back from its first loss of the season and clinch a Top 16 spot when it visits Tofas Bursa on Wednesday, November 13. Umana Reyer Venice hosts Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar the same day.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019