In the afternoon of the match day there was already a great police presence around the sports hall of Niš.
Two hours before the start the sports hall was almost full.
Then, as the time was coming soon, the squad appeared on the court to warm up.
They got a very warm welcome from the fans.
While on the stand there was someone whom we haven’t seen for long.
Yes, it was Predrag "Saša" Danilović personally, who came to see Partizan.
On Partizan’s bench the injured players gathered.
To hell with the goddamned Copa Del Rey. I’m fucking not interested in the Spanish royal cup right before the eternal derby, dear ArenaSport.
The start was tough, what else it could be. In the first half there was a long row of fouls on both sides. The first part of the first quarter wasn’t even gone when Koprivica got his third personal foul. After 7:7 Zvezda took the lead (7:10) and they kept it (8:11). We missed out a lot of chances - in fact both teams missed out too many chances, they were all very nervous. They were so nervous that Miller got a technical foul here, in the first quarter. At 8:13 Williams scored from free throw (10:13), then Cvetković sped up and he himself alone (!!!) brought us up to 17:13!!!
Punch line for the end of the first quarter: Zirbes missed out a free throw.
The atmosphere was great.
The beginning of the second quarter was mostly about wrestling. Players were rolling on the floor struggling with each other, fighting over the ball, finally we could grab it and ran up to Zvezda’s paint.
What started at this point was something amazing, unbelievable and fantastic. Wilson made us jump to 24:13 (he got two free throws and in between he scored a wonderful 3-pointer). Cvetković was burning on 1 million Celsius and made such an assist to Vitkovac that will surely be remembered for long.
Zvezda tried with full court press, they could reduce the difference a bit to 26:19. Players were literally fighting sometimes, referees couldn’t always follow the stream of events, they just whistled and gave fouls to random players.
It was especially funny because it was mostly the XXL-sized, tattoed Zirbes had to throw those free throws they got. Yet the German was totally out of shape, at least in the first half. He missed out almost all free throws, he could barely score a point here and there.
Jones got a rebound, he scored (28:19). Zvezda was struggling. They could score almost only from free throws
well, if not Zirbes threw them...
they were cramping, struggling. They struggled so hard they almost got piles, but they could come up to only 6 points of difference (28:22), but Murić cut their possible high hopes short with an elegant and cheeky 3-pointer (31:22).
After this Miller got the ball and ran up. He jumped, he sailed through the air like a helicopter, he clearly wanted to do a giant dunk. He rose his hand, he focused all his power into his palm that was holding the ball...
...and the ball rebounded from the ring with a fantastic trajectory.
At this point I fell on the floor from laugh and made such noises like a retarded seal.
We ran up for a counter-attack, Jones scored with a rakish movement. Our advantage was 11 points (33:22).
At the end of the quarter the referees just had to give the 4th foul to Williams, because why not. Zvezda struggled hard enough to earn 3 more points (this time they could score from free throw), then we could have some rest.
In the third quarter Zvezda barely walked out to the court when Koprivica settled back the 10-point difference (35:25).
Jones scored (37:25), Murić brought a genious 3-pointer (40:25). Zvezda struggled ahead, sometimes they could score (40:29), but Jones always interrupted them, keeping the red hopes low instead of high, to keep them away from any possible emotional disturbance.
What a great pedagugoe Kevin Jones is.
After this a smaller war started under Zvezda’s backboard. Players were fighting, wrestling, the ball dropped all around, three Zvezda-players jumped on a Partizan-player, finally the ball reached Murić. Murić looked around then he threw a GIANT 3-pointer "from another planet" that the plaster fell off from the ceiling (45:29).
Zvezda got a row of free throws (45:32) - they couldn’t really score any field goal... Grave Diggers started to chant their little song about Vesna Čović, again
no, I won’t write it here, it’s too obscene
but the referees found it too harsh, so much that the speaker had to announce that if fans continue to "support their team in such an unsportsmanlike way", there will be nasty consequences.
Interesting, when back then opponent fans yelled life-threatening, obscene words to Duško Vujošević or when they called Bogdan Bogdanović "ustaša", nobody stopped the game and nobody told red fans to shut the fuck up. Double standards, my a.....
After this Grave Diggers chanted their song even louder about what Vesna Čović should do and especially how. At 45:34 Wilson scored a 3-pointer (48:34), and finally Zvezda could score a field goal after a long time. (48:37)
Then came Milutinović’s great moment.
The standing was 50:37, Cvetković ran up with the ball, dribbling. He broke through the red defense line, a defender pushed him to the ground. Cvetković threw the ball while he himself was falling, but the ball rebounded. Milutinović was sneaking under the backboard, he jumped, grabbed the rebounding ball and ruthlessly pushed it into the ring.
At the end of the quarter Zvezda got a friendly clout on their head in the form of a gift free throw from the referees. We finished the third part with 52:39.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter Jones had his moments, changing the standing from 52:41 to 56:41. Zvezda was struggling (56:47), while the Wilson-Murić duo easily scored 4 more points for us (60:47).
Wilson scored again, what made it funny was that a red hand touched the ball while flying towards the ring - had it not touch the ball, Wilson would have missed it out (62:47). Zvezda could score only from free throw (62:51). Williams was fouled out, Zvezda reduced their difference, it started to be a bit uncomfortable (65:59) after they got again a lot of free throws. There was less than a minute to go, when Wilson had a fantastic basket (67:59)
I swear I saw it to be a 3-pointer, well, the referee didn’t
Cvetković scored from free throw (68:59). There were only 7 seconds left, but the referees just had to foul out Wilson and give a last free throw to Zvezda (68:60). But they couldn’t take the victory from us.
It was time for a very well-earned celebration.
And finally, the extra punch line for the end: after the match the totally absent-minded Quincey Miller got on Partizan’s bus (for the great amusement of the Grave Diggers waiting there).
KK Partizan: Cvetković (6), Aranitović, Jones (19), Murić (11), Marinković (5), Tanasković, Vitkovac (3), Koprivica (2), Milutinović (4), Williams (2), Jovanović, Wilson (16)
Crvena Zvezda: Kinsey (22), Rebić, Dangubić (6), Lazić (1), Simanić, Micić (16), Tejić, Simonović, Gudurić, Miller (3), Zirbes (12)
The final of the Korać Cup starts tomorrow at 21:00, we’ll play against Mega Leks. ArenaSport 1 broadcasts it live.