And then there are these matches, like this one.
It started right with a foul and a free throw for Skopje (1:0). No problem, we switched the standing easily (1:7, with the scores of Vitkovac, Wilson and Jones). Then the home team reduced the difference and even took back the lead (10:9).
From then on Skopje kept things under their control for the rest of the first quarter. We could switch the standing only once (12:13), but it didn’t last longer than a few seconds. Our defense seemed to be non-existent, Macedonians threw 3-pointers one after the other, while for us nothing worked. Really nothing. None of our 3-pointer attempts were successful (and it went on like this for long), while Skopje’s defense line was so brutal that we couldn’t throw even a hook. The first quarter ended with 27:19.
In the second quarter the difference was already 10 points for Skopje (33:23). They threw two 3-pointers, while we were just blinking like a frog in the Hungarian meat-jelly. With blood and sweat we made it to 33:29 (Anđušić + Wilson), Skopje sped up (37:29). We equalized with big effort (38:38, again Anđušić and Wilson), but Skopje’s defense line locked up (they practically blocked even our brains off), they even threw a 3-pointer (41:38). At the very end Vitkovac scored, we finished the first half with a one-point difference (41:40).
In the beginning of the second half the home team quickly made it to 47:40. Petar Božić asked for time-out, but it seemed to be in vain - Skopje again crossed the 10-point difference line (53:42). We struggled hard, we had to pick our points almost one by one. We reduced the difference to 53:47, but Skopje again increased it from free throw (55:47). After Vrabac’s 3-pointer (55:50) we seemed to wake up. We made it to 57:56 (Cvetković, Đumić and Jones scored), but here again the same happened as earlier in the game: we approached the opponent to 1-2 points, but we can’t equalize, nor can we switch the standings, while they speed up and increase the difference. That’s what happened at this point, too, though we missed out two free throws in a row. We faced the last quarter with 62:56.
In the last quarter we continued where we stopped. We made it to 62:61, Skopje quickly rushed away, 66:61.
Here came the drama, but at this point Average Fan was so weary that there was energy only for a dry smile instead of scratching the floor insanely.
First we equalized. 66:66, scorers: Jones and Milutinović.
Wilson came, saw, we took back the lead (66:69).
Skopje equalized (69:69). They took back the lead (71:69).
Jones equalized (71:71).
Average Fan just writhed one or two, in a half-laying, half-sitting position. Mouth half open, sometimes with a bit of froth. Nothing mattered anymore.
There were barely 2 minutes left, when in the most critical moment Skopje accidentally dropped the ball.
The only problem was that when we wanted to run up for a counter-attack, the ball was stolen from Anđušić. We got the consequences, too. 74:71.
Skopje’s defense again grew into a concrete wall, while something seemed to break at Partizan. First, again nothing ever worked. We couldn’t score, neither from distance, nor from under the backboard. Foul came after foul, all from us, Skopje got a row of free throws.
What is more, all these fouls were real and just. Referees worked quite well at this game.
At 78:71 Wilson scored from free throw (78:73). He tried to keep the spirit somehow in the team (79:75). Milutinović reduced the difference to 80:78 with a 3-pointer, but 7 seconds before the end Jones was fouled out. Skopje got a free throw and they won the game with it. (82:78)
You can watch the last one and a half minutes here.
MZT Skopje: Protić (8), Ljubičić (8), Mekić, Markovski, Vasiljević, Mladenovski, Drenovac (17), Bunić, Stojanovski (12), Mijatović (10), M. Luković (7), U. Luković (20)
KK Partizan: Cvetković (6), Aranitović, Jones (14), Murić, Marinković (2), Vitkovac (10), Đumić (3), Magdevski, Milutinović (6), Vrabac (5), Wilson (21), Anđušić (11)
League table will be brought later.
Update: current standing of the League
1. Budućnost 30 points
2. Cedevita 29 points
3. CZ 28 points
4. Mega Leks 26 points
5. Krka 24 points
6. MZT Skopje 23 points
7. Tajfun Šentjur 23 points
8. Zadar 23 points
9. Union Olimpija 22 points
10. Partizan 22 points
11. Cibona 22 points
12. Metalac 22 points
13. Igokea 21 points
14. Sutjeska 21 points