Union Olimpija scored an 82-75 win over Armani Jeans Milano
Union Olimpija survived to laugh last on Thursday with a thrilling 82-75 victory over Armani Jeans Milano in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Game of the Week in front of a packed house at Stozice Arena. The hosts seemed to have the game under control after a 14-0 first quarter run and a double-digit halftime lead. Armani Jeans stormed back with a 0-13 third-quarter charge and led by as many as 9 in the fourth. However Olimpija battled back with 10 unanswered points, tying the game at 71-71 on Damir Markota triple and going ahead for good on a Goran Jagodnik three. Milano stayed close, but came p short in the final minute when Jagodnik and Vlado Ilievsko iced the game from the line. Olimpija improved to 5-2 and remains tied with Panathinaikos atop Group D before their showdown in Athens next week. Kenny Gregory paced the winners with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Jagodnik added 15 points and Ilievski scored 14 – 12 of them from the line. Morris Finley led Milano with 16 points, David Hawkins scored 14, Nicolo Melli 13 and Stefano Mancinelli had 10. Armani Jeans slipped to 3-4 and hosts Efes Pilsen next.
Gregory shined early with a slam on the offensive glass before Finley netted Milano’s first points. Marco Mordente managed to give the visitors a brief lead, but Gregory was getting revved up. Ilievsko left the game with what proved later to be a minor injury, but Marque Perry came in and helped ignite the hosts. Gregory assisted to Kevinn Pinkney as Olimpija regained the lead and then a Saso Ozbolt steal led to a Gregory slam. Perry added a basket, Ilevsko came back and scored from the line and when all was said and done. Olimpija has scored 14 unanswered points for an 18-5 lead. Hawkins penetrated for his first basket, but Gregory soared at the other end for a layup, free throw and 14-point Olimpija lead. Hawkins came back with a pair of free throws to make it 21-9 after 10 minutes.
Perry opened the second quarter with a pull-up baseline jumper. Ibby Jaaber got involved for Milano with a triple and then a great pass to Melli inside for a slam. Hawkins also connected from downtown as the visitors tried to claw their way back. But Ilievski drew a foul while shooting a three-pointer and sank all 3 free throws. Then a Perry steal resulted in a Gregory layup as Olimpija regained the momentum. Mike Nardi answered from downtown for Milano, but Gregory took a pass from Jagodnik and converted a three-point play. Finley tried to fuel Armani Jeans, however Markota was active on the offensive glass to keep the hosts cruising. Milano made a late charge as Mason Rocca worked for a basket in the paint and Finley tripled to make it 37-30. Salin Sasu came off the bench to nail a thre and responded to Finley’s next basket with a layup to make it 42-32 at the break.
Rocca scooped in a basket on the break as Milano came out energized and looking to get back in the game. Hawkins blocked Gregory from behind, but Olimpija’s star for the night grabbed the ball and layed it in. Pinkney cut for a pass from Gregory to keep the hosts in control. Finley from the line and Mordente from downtown narrowed the gap and then a Mordente steal led to Finley free throws and a Ljubljana timeout. Little changed after that as Moredente connected twice from downtown and Mancinelli added a triple of his own to give Armani Jeans a 46-47 lead, completing a 0-13 charge. Jagodnik’s first basket ended Olimpija’s drought, but not Milano’s run. Rocaa scored and then Melli did so twice to get to 48-53 and baskets by Hawkins and Mancinelli sandwiched a Jagodnik score to make it 51-57 through three quarters.
The first minute of the fourth quarter featured free throws from both teams. Giorgi Shermadini brought Olimpija within 1 when he attacked the rim for a highlight reel slam and foul. Mancinelli came back at Olimpija with a big three, Melli rejected Shermadini and Finley sank a jumper and then a Melli slam made it 58-66 and silenced the local fans. When Melli sank a three-pointer to put the visitors up 9, the outcome looked clear. However Olimpija continued to fight. A Shermadini slam and Gergory layup made showed signs of life, but Hawkins put Armani Jeans up 64-71. Then Ilievski scored from the line and Jagodnik on the offensive glass as the crowd woke up. Markota connected from downtown to tie the score before Jagodnik sank a three to cap a 10-0 run and give the hosts the lead again as the crown erupted. Milano still had chances as Hawkins cut it to 74-73 from the line and Jaaber later got within 78-85. But Ilievski and Jagodnik were a combined 8 for 8 from the line in the final minute and Milano did not get shots off in that same minute, allowing Olimpija to grab the win to the delight of the hoarse Olimpija fans.
Thursday, December 2, 2010