It still feels terrible though :(
Many came again to support the team.
Meanwhile the boys walked out to the court...
...Lauvergne was singing "Dobro pamtim sve" together with the fans...
...one last group hug and discussion before the start...
...and we gave it a kickstart.
Less than two minutes passed when Murić got his first foul.
It came to my mind that betting offices should have an option for people to bet not just for the end result or the winner, but also for Murić on how soon he gets his first personal foul. You get what I mean. Within how many minutes or even seconds arrives the first foul. As an extra possibility people could even bet whether he’ll reach his third foul within the first quarter. It would be a smash hit. (I’d like a few-percent-slice for my idea, thank you.)
After 4:4 we took a confident lead (12:6). Zvezda was seemingly confused. Again there were too many fouls, we again missed out a lot of attempts, but we were leading (14:9).
In the 7th minute Murić got his 3rd foul. His performance was catastrophal, not just on this very game, but on every match of the final series. Foul within a minute, 3 fouls within the first quarter... It might be fine on one single match, especially on a derby. But on ALL matches... it’s just too much.
Don’t come up with the counter-argument that Dangubić also got his 3rd foul in the first quarter. I couldn’t care less for Dangubić, and I think a Partizan-player should have enough self-control not to get involved into so many mistakes right at the beginning of the game.
Zvezda jumped from 19:13 to 20:18. Milutinović scored in the very last moment, just at the end buzz. We finished the first quarter with 22:18.
At the beginning of the second quarter Zvezda took the lead (22:23). Not much later Micić got a technical foul, we took back the lead by the free throw that followed (25:23). Both teams fought hard so much, that soon Lazić also got a technical foul.
The referee was the same as on the first two games, but this time he was surprisingly (or even shockingly) impartial.
We were leading to 29:23 with a 7-point-series behind us when a firecracker was thrown to the court.
The game halted, everyone was complaining, for this or that reason. Then when we could finally continue, we started with missing out 3 chances for 3-pointer in a row. Aleksandar Džikić asked for time-out, he could somehow shake us up. (31:27)
Did I hear well that fans here started to chant "Duško Vujošević, ša la la la la"?...
Zvezda reduced the difference to 31:30. Jones was fouled 3 times in a row within a few seconds. Veličković kept the spirit in the team. The standing was cluse, but at least we were leading (37:36). The game was tensed, but exciting in the second quarter - definitely better and more exciting than the previous three.
Zvezda took back the lead with a 3-pointer (37:39), and even though we equalized once (39:39, Marinković), they were leading again in the half-time. (39:41)
The third quarter was awful. At the beginning Murić was fouled for the 4th time and it was absolutely legitimate.
We were in the middle of an attack when he pushed Jović to the ground. Obvious offensive foul. Obvious and totally unnecessary.
Zvezda played more and more self-confident while we had beginner’s mistakes. Traveling, running out of time, foul after foul... Jones wanted to throw a 3-pointer, the ball rebounded, someone wanted to push it back to the ring, the ball rebounded again. We fell apart. The opponent was leading (44:50) and the worst was that they played the very same player-to-player defense with full court press tactics they did during the previous matches. As if there's no remedy against them... We got nervous more and more, which brought more and more mistakes (missed-out attempts, long row of rebounds while the opponent controlled the boards). We tried this hang-on-the-opponent-under-the-board trick, but it didn’t work out. It ended with a defensive foul every time, including the usual free throw for the other side. It was 46:54 before the end, when Wilson could score one more just at the end buzz (48:56).
For the last quarter we lost control. Zvezda took back the two-digit advantage (50:60). In the middle of the quarter players got into a combat fight. Zirbes started to push Jones, then picked up a fight with Wilson, too. Everyone was nervous. Lazić was fouled out, followed by Wilson not much later. We struggled, but all our attempts rebounded. Zvezda was leading (61:65), then 39 seconds before the end we reduced the difference to 2 points with Murić’s free throw (63:65). Zvezda’s head coach asked for time-out. Tension grew, only 25 seconds were left. Free throw for Zvezda (63:67). Aleksandar Džikić asked for time-out. We walked back to the court, Jones scored (65:67) only 19 seconds before the end, after great struggle. Zvezda again asked for time-out. We walked back to the court. Vitkovac got fouled, free throw for Zvezda (65:69). A last, desperate attempt by us for a 3-pointer. We miss it out. The whole team is totally nervous. Only 7 seconds are left. Free throw for Zvezda. They score one (65:70). We have time only to throw the ball in to the court. End buzz. The end. That was all.
Grave Diggers welcomed the team as if they had won the title, and not the other side.
At the post-match press conference Aleksandar Džikić confirmed that Kevin Jones leaves Partizan. The reason is simple: he asked for such a salary that Partizan cannot afford. Jones will probably continue his career in NBA.
Still not confirmed though, but it seems most players will stay at Partizan. Vrabac, Marinković, Cvetković, Andrić and Koprivica are more or less sure. Veličković’s contract expires, but the team will do everything to keep him. Murić is not sure, but his stay cannot be excluded either.
KK Partizan: Aranitović (3), Jones (12), Murić (4), Marinković, Veličković (19), Vitkovac (4), Đumić, Magdevski, Milutinović (4), Williams (5), Vrabac (1), Wilson (13)