Partizan beats Alba (88:74) in Euroleague R26 played in Belgrade, with the third quarter being key. Supporting their squad’s fight for the playoffs, the loud and proud fans that: “Make watching Partizan a mater of prestige”, as per coach Željko Obradović, are returning home happy.

Partizan Alba R26 Euroleague
Photo: J.L. /Sidelinesrb

The Black and Whites broke the opponent’s first half lead during the third quarter. Scoring 35 points tonight’s third was one of their best in the season. A great time for key movers Avramović and Punter ended in 77:53.

Fully energised, fuelled by the fan support we glide into the final ten minutes. Alba persisted in rebounds (charging a total 34-26), while the match pace is somewhat interrupted by free-throws on both sides. With a 80:59 lead and seven minutes left, this has become a game of defence.

Halfway into the final quarter Partizan dropped their pace, Smailagić was out with 5 fouls, while Alba came closer. After a short point series they took advantage of both two-pointers and free throws (80:70). 

With three minutes left to play the Black and Whites needed to tighten their defensive lines and remain calm. The ball flow for the home team wasn’t as good as ten minutes earlier. However, with the previous advantage it was still enough. Two minutes before the final whistle, the victory matter was clear. 

On the boxscore, Avramović marked 19 points for Partizan, while Alba’s Lo scored 17.

Coach Israel Gonzales: “Very good second half for Partizan. Their defence was very, very good. We lost our focus. The players played a very good first half. They fought until the end. When you don’t put your hands down is a sign of good spirit. (…) The league is very tied (in terms of the playoff chances).

When asked about Alba not matching Partizan’s energy in the third quarter, coach Gonzales briefly concluded: “Sometimes the other team simply does better than you.”

Coach Obradović: “Each game matters. No one has yet entered the playoff but no one has still dropped out. That speaks on how the playing field is evened out. We showed the players during halftime that they cannot allow a single easy shot of the opponent. Then the third quarter came out the way it did. We played phenomenal defence, allowing Alba only 9 points and playing excellent offence. Sometimes the energy turns into something very positive in the offence. “

Speaking of the drop in focus during the final quarter: “The ball flow of the fourth quarter was disastrous. We need to get used to continue playing well (after a lead). Aleksa played an excellent game. However each of them needs to understand that the drive (during the entire match) is extremely important.

Speaking of what awaits, Obradović said: “The match against Split is on Saturday. I would like to thank them for making a space for us. We were supposed to play them on Sunday, but they agreed to play on Saturday, so we have an extra day to prepare for Bologna. 

Obradović: “I can only thank my players for everything that they do… Personally, I am living fantastic moments”

The plan for the upcoming days is clear:”Tomorrow we can try to recover and prepare for Split and then on Sunday focus on Bologna. No one can forsee the situations in the Euroleague. Point differences, aggregates (that count for entering the playoffs)… I always ask of my players to play until the very end for that reason.” 

Once again, coach Obradović has mentioned the energy within the Arena: “Of course, I need to thank the people for a beautiful ambiance and that watching Partizan has become a matter of prestige. We thank them, because they are the ones making it possible. Partizan is what it is thanks to the fans. Personally I am living moments that are fantastic.“, concluded Obradović postmatch.

Partizan, has another seven Euroleague games to play before the playoffs. After tonight’s Arena takedown the coveted Top 8 seems more realistic.

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