The Serbian fans did their part to make life miserable for Sonny and his CSKA Moscow brethren, welcoming former Partizan center Nenad Krstic home with loud yells and chants and a green laser light flashing his eye when he stepped up for some crucial fourth quarter free throws.
But the laser never found Weems’ eyeballs, and the way he was shooting it might not have mattered. More times than we’re using to seeing out of Ettore Messina-coached teams, CSKA swept the floor clean and let Weems go to work, one-on-one. More times than not, it worked out brilliantly for CSKA.
Weems made pull ups, made threes (2-of-2), looked for contact near the rim (8-of-8 from the foul line) and ended with a Euroleague-best 30 on the night. Partizan gutted their way out of an 8-point halftime hole to bring it even, then looked gassed in overtime.
Partizan has the youngest roster of the 24 Euroleague teams, and Sonny Weems’ contract with CSKA might stand chest high to Partizan’s entire team budget; but this is not rare territory for the Belgrade club.
It’s certainly nothing new for head coach Dusko Vujosevic, who is back for his fourth stint with Partizan since 1986. Dule’s last Euroleague gig was with CSKA Moscow in 2010, a bizarrely bad experiment in which Dule stepped down midseason and CSKA missed the Top 16 after reaching four straight title games.
Vujosevic with a pumped up budget was like a charcoal artist with a box of extra art supplies so large that he couldn’t find his charcoal. He needed to get back to doing what had put him on the map: turning raw talent into star power.
Since his 1986 debut with Partizan, Dule (that’s DOO-LAY) has coached and molded big time talents like Vlade Divac, Nenad Krstic (who now plays for CSKA), Nikola Pekovic and most recently, the Wizards’ 2011 first rounder, Jan Vesely.
Vujosevic will try and pluck a similar success story from this batch of players. Between French point guard Leo Westermann (20), emerging team leader and athletic forward Vladimir Lucic (23), and Spurs draftee Davis Bertans (19), who knocked down 3-of-6 from deep—one very deep—against CSKA’s long defense.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (20) had a career best 16 points and 21-year-old Serbian center Dejan Musli pulled down 10 rebounds, also tops for his career.
Now that Dule’s got his hands on them, this Partizan side could be dangerous. CSKA is lucky to have escaped, and even luckier they had Sonny Weems.
And it was a rocky reunion Thursday for the reigning champions, Olympiacos, and the city of Istanbul, in which the Reds actually won their Euroleague championship last May.
Olympiacos, who hadn’t lost a game since March 23, walked onto the court with Anadolu Efes and watched as Jordan Farmar and Anadolu Efes absolutely annihilated them 98-76.
Looks like we’ll have a new number one in the Euroleague Power Rankings this Monday.
And you’ll all be relieved to know Sasha Vujacic is still getting shots up, and today he dropped 15 for the winners.
But it was not Vujacic’s name that kept coming up during the Turkish side’s rout of the Reds; it was Vujcic. As in, Nikola Vujcic, owner of the Euroleague’s only two triple-doubles since 2000.
In Istanbul on Thursday, Farmar came dangerously close to notching the third: 25 points, 8 boards and 9 assists.