Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

In a battle of EuroCup contenders, Ratiopharm Ulm bounced back from their blowout defeat to Anadolu Efes cruising to victory against Partizan NIS Belgrade by 84-94 (21-26, 21-24, 13-22, 29-22) in the 3rd-place game of the "Pavlos Giannakopolos tournament" held at the OAKA Arena in Athens.

Partizan's lack of energy after their overtime loss to Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Saturday night was more than obvious. Zach LeDay and Kevin Punter sat out for Partizan, while Cristiano Felicio was again unavailable for Jaka Lakovic and Ulm. 

Jaron Blossomgame and Semaj Christon led the German squad in scoring with 20 and 16 points respectively, while Zugic added 11. For Partizan, Aleksa Avramovic poured 21, Koprivica added 14 and Trifunovic logged another 13. 

Blossomgame and Philip Herkekhoff scored five points apiece to help Ulm get off on the right foot (10-14) five minutes into the game. The German team was able to maintain and increase the lead to seven (17-24) thanks to Simon, who went tenaciously on the offensive boards and scored six points off second chances. Obradovic called a time-out, as his players - save Avramovic, Kurucs and Zagorac- were completely out of tune. Those three players accounted for all 21 Partizan's points in the first quarter, which ended on a good note for the Serbs, as Simon rushed in transition instead of using all the time left on the clock, allowing Kurucs to make an easy lay up. 

The first player, other than the afore-mentioned trinity, to put the ball in the basket for Partizan was Nemanja Dangubic after 13 minutes of play (27-30). An increase in defensive intensity didn't change things for the Serbian powerhouse. Ulm had both the size and the energy to match up against them, even when their offense didn't work properly. For instance, Zugic hit an improbable out-of-balance three-pointer at the buzzer with some considerable help by the glass to make it 33-41 for the German side. Avramovic kept scoring at will, logging 14 points in almost as many minutes, but this time Ulm was far more than just Blossomgame and Christon. 

Some offensive rebounds and a three-pointer by Glass brought Partizan closer (42-45), however Blossomgame went for 5 points in a row to put his team ahead by eight (42-50) at half-time. The former Cavaliers forward had 12+5 in 13 minutes of play. In contrast, second-round NBA Draft pick Yam Madar went scoreless, dishing only two assists over that span. 

A three-point play by Christon made it 48-59 and a triple by Gunther gave Ulm a bigger (+14, 48-62), with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Ball circulation was nothing but outstanding for Lakovic's men, who went on an overall partial score of 1-15 on their way to securing an even bigger margin (48-67). On the other side of the floor, Partizan were missing layups and -of course- two of their go-to guys in LeDay and Punter. When Kurucs and Avramovic stopped contributing offensively, Obradovic couldn't do much to turn the situation around. Ulm completely dominated the third period by 13-22. 

Six more point by Blossomgame opened the fourth quarter smoothly for the German side (57-75), which became too self-complacent in the minutes to follow. Partizan ran, scored in transition, producing 9 points thanks to Trifunovic and Koprivica. Lakovic called a time-out, in case the situation would go out of hand for his team, but Ulm kept giving up easy fouls and points from the charity stripe to their opponents. If it hadn't been for Christon, who took over from Blossomgame, the game could have turned into a real showdown. The most Partizan could do was cut down the deficit to 10 (72-82), since their full-court press - and Avramovic's re-emergence in the game- came quite late. 

Partizan Belgrade: Avramovic 21, Koprivica 14, Trifunovic 13, Kurucs 11, Zagorac 9, Dangubic 8.

Ratiopharm Ulm: Blossomgame 20, Christon 16, Zugic 11, Herkenhoff 8, Phillips 8, Simon 8

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