The EuroLeague Basketball is like the Champions League in soccer. The best professional club teams compete outside of their regular national leagues to determine one European champion. The EuroLeague is getting close to its “final four” and it is down to the final 16 teams. Belgrade professional team Partizan last night hosted Barcelona.
It was the first time I saw a basketball game end like it did. Partizan was comfortably head by half time but Barcelona stormed ahead in the second half. Late in the game, Partizan tied it and it went to overtime. In the overtime, with Partizan ahead by a point, 67-66, a Barcelona player took a shot. The ball hit the rim twice and was bouncing out when a Partizan player knocked it away from the basket – giving Partizn the win. But shortly after, the Barcelona coach (left in the photo above taken from my TV screen), the two referees (orange), and the Partizan coach (bald far right) were looking at the replay to determine if it had been goaltending or not.
Now while they were deciding who would win the game, the crowd waited. Pionir Hall is a small stadium that seats roughly 7,000 fans was completely full. Partizan fans are like soccer fans and they are on their feet and singing and cheering the entire game. Serbia takes its basketball seriously and so the atmosphere for visiting teams must be difficult. After about a 5 minute delay, the referees finally decided in favor of Partizan. I wonder what would have happened if they had decided the other way? A riot? Violence?
I didn’t know that instant replay is used in professional basketball anywhere. It is used in NFL football, tennis, but I don’t think in basketball yet. Even more puzzling was the fact that the opposing coaches and referees were looking at the replay together court side to make the decision. Usually the replays are looked at in the quiet of a booth in the stadium by a designated official or they are computer generated like in tennis.
With the win, Partizan is 2-0 in their group of four. They had two upset victories, on the road against Panithinaikos (Athens) and this victory at home against Barcelona. They play next Thursday against Maroussi, another Greek team in Athens. My favorite team in Serbia is Red Star, the other big Belgrade team, but I am fully behind Partizan since Red Star did not qualify for the Euroleague.
I’ll be posting more about basketball as the season continues. Below is the photo of the instant replay. I would have not ruled it goaltending as the ball was leaving the cylinder. The Partizan player, John Roberts, former Red Star import, shouldn’t have touched it however, and risk the goal tending call.