We started like a bunch of sleepy badgers and as the game was going on, it didn’t get any better. Olimpija made it to 9:5 and after a while their advantage grew to 10 points (17:7). As if the team would have been somewhere else in spirit. Olimpija was not on the top either concerning combativity, but we were like being bitten by tik tik flies. Thankfully Jones and Wilson didn’t fall asleep, they made us crawl back to 20:11. Cvetković scored as well (20:13), then the first quarter ended.
The second one was much worse. Terrible game, awful mistakes. We were like a team from the 3rd league. What is more, the on-screen scoreboard disappeared
not on my side, it was a glitch in ArenaSport’s matrix
and didn’t return until the end of the first half. I had to follow the standings on flashscore.com, though perhaps I should have stayed in blissful ignorance, because the result just made me depressive.
As for the match itself, it was boring, soulless and sleepy.
It was so boring that even a cherry baklava recipe was more interesting than what was going on the court of Tivoli sports hall.
Olimpija reached the two-digit difference a few times, we were just fumbling. Cvetković tried to keep the spirit in the team, he scored a few baskets, but we couldn’t reduce the 10+ point difference. Soon before the end the Wilson-Jones duo made us jump from 44:28 to 44:35, and it was high time to have some longer rest.
We started to show life-signs in the middle of the third quarter. Or, maybe it was only Olimpija slowing down. Nevertheless the difference was reduced from 44:37 to 48:42. Wilson was the most active compared to the others (the rest played very enervated). The difference was less and less (55:51), meanwhile the timestamp collapsed on the on-screen scoreboard and didn’t recover at all. The quarter ended with 58:54.
For the last part (or at least that part we thought would be the last) Olimpija was obviously struggling. We equalized (58:58), then took the lead with Wilson’s score (58:61). Yet the game was still a surreal comedy, because what else could you name that when we had 4 attempts in a row for a 3-pointer, but the ball rebounded every single time?... Olimpija wake up from their slumber when we took the lead, and from this point on until the final K.O. it was like a ping-pong game. A team scores, then B team scores. Again A team scores, then again B team. Then again A team... and so on. 65:66, 67:66, 67:68, 67:70, 69:70, etc. Only a few seconds were left, we were leading to 69:71, when Olimpija suddenly equalized (71:71). End buzz, the standing is a draw. Extra time.
What started here was like a very heavy feverish nightmare. We continued the ping-pong game. At this point it seemed like so that the team that loses would be the one that makes the first mistake. It happened at 78:77. Jones’s attempt rebounded from the ring. Olimpija took advantage, jumped to 83:77. Vitkovac sped up and scored 4 points (83:81). Less than a minute was left, Olimpija got a free throw (85:81). So did we, Cvetković scored (85:83). Partizan played full court press, we didn’t let Slovenians even take breath. Last seconds, Partizan attacks, Cvetković possesses the ball. He shots... and scores. 85:85, end buzz, another extra time is waiting.
We continued again the ping-pong. Wilson and Jones had a massive series, making us jump to 87:93.
At this point almost only our two Americans were active, the rest were breathing through their ears from exhaustedness.
Olimpija got free throw twice, they reduced the difference to 92:93. One free throw was there for us, too (92:94). 11 seconds were left, when Olimpija equalized (94:94). Amazing. End buzz, one another amount of extra time.
Ping-pong. Both teams were very tired, they made a lot of mistakes. Only one and a half minutes were left, the standing was 101:99, when we started the "Olimpija scores, we equalize"-game. It was absolutely not less nerve-racking than the ping-pong style. At 105:103 Olimpija’s coach asked for time-out. When they got back to the court, they immediately got a free throw (106:103). Wilson was tirelessly carrying the team on his back. He scored (106:105). Olimpija got another free throw (107:105). A few seconds were left, when Wilson ran up and right before the end buzz he scored. 107:107, another extra time.
In this absolutely crazy encore, when both teams made a superhuman performance, in this very last part we couldn’t take the lead. Olimpija was always ahead of us with a step (111:109, 113:111, 115:113, etc.). 10 seconds were left, the standing was 116:115, when Olimpija got a free throw. They scored. 118:115
4 seconds were left. Partizan got a free throw.
Wilson stood to the paint... and he missed it out. He couldn’t score.
The rest of the time was enough only for Olimpija to ran up to our backboard, then it was end buzz. After one hour we were defeated in a fantastic, surreal and very heroic game, but for all these we made in the last quarter and throughout the entire extra time, for all these the boys deserve all respect.
This is why I root for Partizan. This is why I don’t care for Hungarian sports, nor for spoiled foreign teams and their celebrity athletes. I love them for this battling spirit, and this is what I can find only at them.
Adriatic League has ended for us, the next station comes later in the Serbian domestic league.
Union Olimpija: Rupnik (2), Robinson (14), Hrovat (10), Mesiček, Nikolić (8), Vučetić (6), Lapornik (25), Lešić (31), Mahkovic (4), Zakis (18), Čančar
KK Partizan: Cvetković (19), Aranitović, Jones (32), Murić (7), Marinković, Vitkovac (12), Koprivica, Milutinović, Williams (4), Vrabac, Wilson (41)
Adriatic League regular season end results:
1. Budućnost 49 points
2. CZ 46 points
3. Cedevita 45 points
4. Mega Leks 43 points
5. Partizan 38 points
6. Zadar 38 points
7. Union Olimpija 37 points
8. Cibona 37 points
9. Igokea 37 points
10. MZT Skopje 36 points
11. Metalac 36 points
12. Krka 36 points
13. Sutjeska 35 points
14. Tajfun Šentjur 33 points