By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Following Kevin Punter’s killing buzzer-beater that sealed the deal in Game 1, giving Partizan the 87-86 on-the-road win, Real Madrid needed a victory to tie things up before moving to Belgrade for the rest of the best-of-five series. However, the black-and-white team doubled up.
Taking advantage of Edy Tavares’ absence due to a knee injury, Zeljko Obradovic‘s team went up 2-0 in their first EuroLeague Playoffs series since 2010, by beating the hosts 95-80, as the game got suspended with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter and a total of 21 players being ejected for taking part on the brawl or entering the court by leaving the bench.
Mathias Lessort exploited his opponent’s missing by going very close to a double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Dante Exum provided 19 points and Zach LeDay added 15.
After being the best for their team in Game 1, James Nunnally and Kevin Punter combined for 30 points.
“We’ve been playing against Real Madrid, a great club. We knew it was going to be tough. Now we are 2-0, we are very happy. Of course, the playoff hasn’t finished yet, I think they are going to play against Tavares next game. We have to be careful. What happened isn’t a good image either for Real Madrid and Partizan”, Zeljko Obradovic commented following the 2nd victory in the series.
“They were better than us”
On the losing side, the 38-year-old legendary veteran Rudy Fernandez played his best game of the season and ended it with 16 points and 4/6 from the arc. “They were better than us, we have to know how we played. They knew how to play. We’ve been performing a different defense, and they struggled. With what we’ve experienced today, we have to say sorry to every basketball fan. We can’t see this kind of image, we made mistakes”, he also talked about in the post-game press conference.
He was followed by Mario Hezonja, who had 16 points but scored most of them in the first quarter.
Without Walter Tavares and with an injured Vincent Poirier, who gave all he had for Chus Mateo’s team since the tip-off and ended with 12 points and 7 rebounds, Anthony Randolph, who played the 5 in some minutes, never shot from the field. Guerschon Yabusele scored his first and only 3 points with 7:34 left.
“First of all, the playoffs haven’t ended yet. We still have to play three more games, as I hope. We are sorry to our fans, we didn’t transmit to them how this game should have been. We’ve been too much excited at the beginning, we didn’t understand how we should have played. We didn’t play with heart, the players gave their best”, the Spanish head coach said in the post-game press conference.
Partizan started it hot with an 11-0 run, scoring 31 points at the end of the first quarter. The Serbian side never stopped and kept on pushing on offense, winning the second quarter 20-16 and leaving the Blancos down by 14.
Real Madrid cut the deficit to 5 points thanks to the experience of Rudy Fernandez and Chacho Rodriguez with 6:55 left in the third quarter. However, following a four-point play by James Nunnally 47 seconds later, things got back in Partizan’s control, also going up by 17 at the beginning of the fourth.
Things got heated at the end of the game, with 1:40 left, as Sergio Llull committed a hard foul on Kevin Punter, which led to immense chaos and a big brawl between the two teams. Dante Exum got eventually injured by Guerschon Yabusele, as the referees checked the replay for several minutes. This led to a lot of reactions from professional players on social media.
After the thrilling victory in Game 1 and the more comfortable win in Game 2, Partizan Belgrade has now two packed games in Stark Arena to close the series and go to the Final Four for the first time in 13 years. Game 3 is scheduled for May 2 at 20:30 CET, and the eventual Game 4 is for May 4 at the same time.
PHOTO CREDIT: Turkish Airlines EuroLeague