He had his hands full rising star Grigorij Zhyknjak for most of the game, but veteran center Saun Vandiver was able to lead Estudiantes to a thrilling 87-77 overtime against visiting Zalgiris of Lithuania and preserve the Madrid team's solid position in the Group A playoff race.
Estudiantes' redoubled defensive efforts in extra time certainly didn't hurt. The Baltic team scored only five points and went home empty-handed despite a fantastic fourth-quarter comeback that tied the game with 10 seconds left in regulation time.
Estudiantes led by eight points five minutos before the buzzer (65-57) but let the former continental champions tie the game thanks to shooting guard Donatas Slanina (2s points), the best of the Lithuanian squad, and steadily improving center Grigorij Zhyknjak, who set his own laws inside the paint.
Zalgiris guard Steve Woodberry, who was held to 13 points by Estudiantes, nonetheless started the comeback with a drive, then a basket by Zhyknjak and a three-pointer by Slanina gave Zalgiris a slight lead, 69-70 with 18 seconds to play.
A basket and a free throw by Nenad Markovic allowed Estudiantes to retake the lead, 72-70, but the home team chose to foul on the last posession, which allowed Woodberry to make the tying foul shots.
In overtime, it was all Estudiantes and all Vandiver. The American center scored eight of his game-high 23 points in the extra time, which never gave Zalgiris the chance it seemed to have when regulation time ended.
Markovic added 16 points and Carlos Jimenez 15 to pace Estudiantes, which gave itself a one-game advantage over Zalgiris in the Group A, which is the only one of the four with no ties. Peristeris is first at 6-1, Paf Bologna second at 5-2, Estudiantes third at 4-3 and Zalgiris fourth at 3-4.
Thursday, December 14, 2000