Tau Ceramica won its second game in a row, 74-88 on the road at Oostende on Wednesday to inch closer to the top of what has become a tightly packed Group D. Tau raises its record to 3-3, good for a fourth-place tie with two other Wednesday winners, Scavolini Pesaro and Asvel. With an inspired performance by Virginius Praskevicius, Oostende managed to resist the Spaniards during most of the game, but wilted in the end to drop their record to 0-6. Tau was led by Dejan Tomasevic's 17 points and 7 boards. Mindaugas Timinskas added 15 points, Luis Scola, Elmer Bennett, Laurent Foirest and Fabricio Oberto 11 each. The hosts were lead by an unstoppable Praskevicius with 30 points, followed by Ralph Biggs and Audrius Giedraitis, who sank 14 points each.
The first quarter started surprisingly balanced, as probably most of the fans expected to see Tau pull away soon. It wasn't that way. Oostende could resist Tau and Nocioni, who led the Spaniards with his aggressive style, during the ten minutes of the period but always down by two or three points. The Belgians had the invaluable help of Praskevicius and his three-pointers (3 of 4 at half time, with 20 points) and that's how the quarter ended, 24-27.
The second quarter started in the same way alternating the ties with short leads of two points for Tau, which started to have some help for Nocioni from Tomasevic in the paint, but Elmer Bennett seemed willing to destroy all that work with his crazy conduction on the playing floor. Oostende took advantege of that, and after some plays threatening Tau's lead, a three-point play by Beghin put Oostende ahead by one (37-36). Dusko Ivanovic's reaction came on the spot, and Tau got a 4-12 run until the end of the period for the 41-48 with which the players hit the lockerrooms.
After half time, Ivanovic put Corchiani on the court instead of Bennett and Tau's game seemed to calm down but improve at the same time. The Belgians couldn't help but sit and watch how Tau was pulling away slowly in somewhat similar to a three-point shoot-out (straight threes by Corchiani, Foirest for Tau and Teo Cizmic for Oostende). Tau was ahead by some 10 points all the time, with 59-70 at the end of the third.
The game seemed to be sealed when Oostende played a 2-3 zone defense that forced Tau, who was playing with both Bennett and Corchiani, to make long-range shots, which didn't go in, especially from Corchiani's and Foirest's hands. And oostende took his chance and seemd to come back into the game with a two by Praskevicius that cut Tau's lead down to 7 points (68-75). Ivanovic had had enough, and called a time out which was final for Oostende's aspirations. From here Tau played its game, and, with Tomasevic's boards and points, increased the lead again little by little until the final 74-88.
Wednesday, November 14, 2001