The Euroleague’s game of the night last night and probably ultimately in all of week one was seen in the Union Olimipija-Efes Pilsen battle – and BallinEurope does mean battle – in Ljubljana. By the time the buzzer sounded, some 8,700 had thrilled to only the third double-overtime regular-season game in EL history, with Olimpija surviving, 95-90.
Official highlight clip and writeup follow the break.
(Euroleague.net) – Union Olimpija opened the 2010-11 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in style by edging Efes Pilsen 95-90 in double overtime in front of 8,700 fans at Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Wednesday night. It was the third-ever double-overtime game in competition history, and Olimpija started the Euroleague season with a win for the first time since 2003-04.
Kevinn Pinkney paced the winners with 23 points. Goran Jagodnik added 21 off the bench; Vlado Ilievski and Kenny Gregory each had 16 while Giorgi Shermadini got 11 for Olimpija. Igor Rakocevic led Efes with 23 points; Kerem Tunceri added 15, Bootsy Thornton had 14 and Kerem Gonlum got 12, while Bostjan Nachbar contributed 11 for the guests, who led 68-71 with 12.1 seconds left in regulation.
Jagodnik split free throws but Pinkney grabbed the offensive board and did not miss from the foul line to send the game to overtime. A fast-break layup by Pinkney helped Olimpija to force a second overtime, 78-78. Jagodnik had 8 points in the three minutes, hitting 6-of-6 free throws to lead Olimpija to a well-deserved win in front of an outstanding crowd.
Rakocevic needed just 16 seconds to bury a baseline jumper that Pinkney bettered with a layup-plus-foul for a 3-2 Olimpija edge. Ilievski came off a screen to strike from downtown but a tough shot by Rakocevic kept Efes within 6-4. Damir Markota took over with a backdoor layup that Gonlum erased with a mid-range jumper. Gregory and Ilievski shined with back-to-back driving layups but Rakocevic scored again for a 12-8 Olimpija lead.
Olimpija kept finding easy shots: A layup by Pinkney and a power basket by Gregory boosted the hosts’ lead to 16-8. Lawrence Roberts tried to change things with a layup that Saso Ozbolt improved with a seven-meter bomb. Olimpija excelled on defense, playing with great aggressiveness at both ends. The hosts, however, lacked ball circulation once Ilievski went to the bench with two fouls. Rakocevic sank free throws and Nachbar shined with a put-back dunk off an inbound steal. Jagodnik sent the crowd to their feet with a three-point play but free throws by Nachbar kept Efes within 22-16 after 10 minutes.
Olimpija powered the offensive boards early in the second quarter while Efes felt comfortable with a very effective 2-3 zone defense. Both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes until Tunceri buried a three-pointer to close the gap to 22-19. Gregory took over with a wild reverse layup – his team’s first basket in four minutes – and soon added a fast break dunk that made Efes call a much-needed timeout at 26-19.
Efes kept committing turnovers – they had 10 in the opening 15 minutes – but locked down the defensive boards to keep its options alive. Rakocevic finished a two-chance Efes offense with a three-point play, but Pinkney beat the guests’ full court pressure with a layup. Efes improved its ball circulation and a corner triple by Nachbar got his team even closer at 28-25. Thornton found his first points on a put-back basket that Gregory erased with a fallaway jumper. Thornton beat the buzzer with a close jumper that got Efes as close as 30-29 at halftime.
Thornton scored around the basket to put Efes back ahead, 31-30, immediately after the break. Pinkney stepped up with a backdoor layup and a put-back basket by Markota to get the crowd involved again at 34-31. Nachbar sank free throws and Rakocevic scored twice in penetration to provide another lead change at 37-36.
Pinkney took over with a two-handed dunk that Thornton matched with a long jumper. Gonlum scored again and Andrew Wisniewski shined with a layup-plus-foul that boosted the Efes lead to 44-38. After the 7-0 run, Olimpija called timeout and Gregory stepped up with a tip-in but an easy basket by Gonlum and a fast break layup by Wisniewski made it an eight-point game, 48-40 to Efes.
Jagodnik struck from downtown and Shermadini added a layup for a 50-45 score. Ilievski provided a highlight with a wild three-point play that Rakocevic matched with a running triple. Shermadini stayed on fire with a huge dunk and Jagodnik buried a seven-meter bomb to get Olimpija as close as 55-53 after three quarters.
Shermadini scored in the low post and soon added a backdoor layup to put Olimpija back ahead, 57-56, early in the fourth quarter. Jagodnik and Tunceri traded three-pointers, as Olimpija kept running its offense through Shermadini. A free throw by Nachbar, however, kept Efes within a point at 61-60.
The guests tried to slow down the game tempo to find better shots but its shooters were off-target. Efes was all over the place in defense and a wide open three-pointer by Tunceri put his team back ahead, 64-61, with four minutes to go.
Olimpija was not done, however, as Pinkney struck from downtown to tie it at 64-64. Thornton and Rakocevic sank free throws to give Efes 67-65 edge with two minutes left. Rakocevic collected a steal, drew a foul and did not miss from the line. Pinkney nailed a catch-and-shoot triple for a 69-68 score with 1:14 left.
Thornton and Pinkney traded missed shots but Tunceri fed Roberts for an uncontested dunk that gave Efes the 71-68 edge with 12.1 seconds left. Jagodnik split free throws but Pinkney grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul with 8.1 ticks to go. He made both free throws to tie it at 71-71. Efes had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but Rakocevic missed an off-balance shot.
Tunceri buried a jumper early in overtime, as Olimpija could not find the way to the basket in the opening two minutes. Ilievski fed Shermadini for a power layup but Tunceri beat the shot clock with an off-balance shot for a 75-73 Efes lead. Erwin Dudley sank free throws – his first points – and Thornton copied him right after to make it a five-point game, 79-74, with 1:46 left.
Ilievski rescued Olimpija with a three-pointer and found Gregory for a layup in transition that set the crowd on fire, 79-79, with 28.7 ticks left. Pinkney had a block but could not score in the other end at the buzzer, as time had already expired when Jagodnik scored around the basket.
Pinkney sank a jump hook to get Olimpija in the second overtime but Gonlum tied the game with a tip-in. Olimpija struggled to score right when it mattered and Gonlum silenced the crowd with a bomb from downtown, his fourth triple in 147 Euroleague career games.
Olimpija did not give up, however, as free throws by Jagodnik and a layup by Ilievski put the hosts ahead, 85-84. Rakocevic hit foul shots but Jagodnik matched it with a second-chance layup and added free throws for a 89-86 Olimpija lead with 1:25 left. Tunceri did not miss from the foul line and Efes fouled Pinkney with 34.2 seconds left. He made both attempts, but so did Rakocevic at the other end. Ilievski was next to the foul line, giving Olimpija a 93-90 edge with 20 seconds to go. Andrew Wisniewski missed from downtown and Jagodnik sealed the win from the foul line, allowing thousands of Olimpija fans to celebrate a truly historical win.