By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Partizan Belgrade bounced back to EuroLeague wins after a blowout loss to Olympiacos Piraeus with an impressive offensive game in front of its home crowd. The Serbian side beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 96 – 88 thanks to a particularly strong fourth quarter and dynamic finish.
Dante Exum (21 points, five assists, four rebounds), Zach LeDay (21 points, seven rebounds) and Mathias Lessort (16 points, eight rebounds – seven of them on offense, four assists) carried Partizan all the way until crunch time. It was then when Lessort tipped the ball in after a missed jumper by Kevin Punter (13 points) to put Partizan up 92 – 84 with 72 seconds to play and secure a three-possession advantage for his squad ahead of the final minute.
“We wanted to go into the second half with that [defensive] mentality, and we did that,” Exum said. The Australian guard returned to action after an injury that kept him out last week vs. Olympiacos. “The fans were great, they picked us up, and we were able to hit shots. I feel great. We knew it would be a long season, we have to keep grinding, and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re going to celebrate this tonight and then look forward to the next one.”
LeDay threw down the slam with 12 seconds to play, putting the exclamation mark on one of Partizan’s top performances this season so far.
Maccabi was up 66 – 68 near the end of the third period and then saw Partizan making a 9 – 0 run behind back-to-back triples by Punter and Yam Madar. The Yellows tried to recover their lead but the Exum-LeDay-Lessort trinity kept Partizan ahead for the remainder of the match.
Wade Baldwin led Maccabi with a season-high 23 points plus seven assists but finished with 1-6 triples. Bonzie Colson produced 17 points, Alex Poythress had 16 points and Darrun Hilliard scored 14 for the Israeli team that didn’t manage to match Partizan’s intensity down the stretch.
[At] halftime we talked about a way to change our defense, and I believe we played much more aggressive [after the break],” Partizan coach Zeljko Obradovic said. ” [On] offense, it was more or less like the first half, but we understood how to play defensively and because of this we won the game. Really, congratulations to the players and these incredible people [the fans] again.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball