Exactly 10 years ago on this date, Partizan Belgrade rolled into Tel Aviv for the opener of their best-of-five 2010 EuroLeague Playoffs series. It was the third consecutive season Partizan reached the playoffs and the third time playing the series opener on the road. But the team embraced its role as an underdog, bouncing back from a slow start and riding a red-hot Dusan Kecman to roar back from a 21-point first-half deficit to shock a packed Nokia Arena with a 77-85 win. Kecman netted a career-high 29 points on 7-for-9 three-point shooting to lead Partizan to a 1-0 series lead, which a week later the team converted into its lone playoff series win and resulting Final Four appearance this century.
A fantastic comeback
Things did not look promising for Partizan as Maccabi built a 27-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended it to 34-13 early in the second quarter. However, Kecman and Bo McCalebb got the visitors going to trim the deficit to 46-32 at halftime. Maccabi remained in control, but Partizan got within single digits midway through the third quarter and it was 66-58 at the end of the third. Partizan opened the fourth with a 1-12 run, capped by Kecman’s sixth triple, to take the lead, 67-70. Kecman followed with another three-pointer and Partizan never trailed again, finishing the game on a 2-10 run. In addition to Kecman, who had a PIR of 30 and earned MVP honors for Game 1 of the playoffs, McCalebb was everywhere for Partizan with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, while Aleks Maric scored 10 points in the victory. Doron Perkins had 13 points and 6 assists for Maccabi and Alan Anderson scored 12 in defeat.
The Kecman show
Partizan hit 13 of 26 three-point attempts for the night, paced by Kecman’s 7-for-9 long-range shooting and a career-high 29 points. Kecman hit his first two three-point attempts and was 2-for-4 in the first quarter. He made his next 5 threes, making one triple in the second quarter and two apiece in the third and fourth quarters. Kecman’s 7 triples were the playoff single-game record at the time and the most ever in a Game 1. Alexey Shved broke the record in 2018 when he made 8 of 12 threes in Khimki Moscow Region’s loss against CSKA in Game 4 of their series.
Hot at the right time
Kecman finished the playoff series shooting 12-for-18 (66.7%) from downtown. remains is the highest three-point accuracy for any player with more than 13 three-point attempts in a single playoff series in the EuroLeague this century. The Partizan sharpshooter also went on to make 3 of 5 in each of the Final Four games. Kecman, who is the current Partizan team manager, got hot at the perfect moment; in 16 appearances that season before his Game 1 heroics, he was 19 for 54 from downtown.
What happened next
Maccabi dominated in Game 2 and tied the series with a 98-78 win, but then the series moved the Serbian capital where Partizan protected its home floor with an 81-73 victory in Game 3 then clinched the series with 76-67 win in Game 4. Partizan returned to the Final Four after more than a decade, where it lost two games, both in overtime. Olympiacos Piraeus edged Partizan in the semifinal with Josh Childress scoring a last-second layup to send the game into overtime before celebrating an 80-83 win after. In the third-place game, CSKA edged Partizan 90-88.