Benetton Fribourg made sure its ULEB Cup debut would be one to remember with a 106-102 double-overtime win over the Antwerp Giants on Tuesday night. Harold Mrazek scored 29 points, including making 16 of 17 free throws, to lead the Swiss champs to victory in an exciting back and forth encounter. Mrazek scored the clutch basket to force overtime at 81-81. At the end of the first extra period, Antwerp's Kris Sergeant made a free throw to tie it at 91-91, but missed the second that could have won the game. In the second OT, Aleksander Lichodzijewski made it 96-99, but Dave Esterkamp hit a momentum-changing three for the hosts and Mrazek followed with free throws as the hosts closed out an eventful win. Fribourg joins Triumph Lyubertsy and Swans Gmunden at 1-0 on top of Group E. Next week Fribourg travels to Gmunden, while Antwerp hosts Buducnost. Kenyetta Johnson dominated inside for Fribourg with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Esterkamp scored 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds and point guard Pascal Perrier-David finished with 14 points and 6 assists. Sergeant led Antwerp with 20 points, Lichodzijewski scored 19, Brandon Gay posted 17 points and 7 steals before fouling out, Ian Hanavan added 16 points, Ryan Sears 12 points and 8 rebounds and David Toya had 11,
Gay scored the game's first points, but Esterkamp quickly got Fribourg on the board from downtown. Gay kept going, scoring Antwerp's first four baskets and Lichodzijewski and Hanavan added points as the visitors went up 4-12. The lead grew to 12-21 before triples from Perrier-David and Esterkamp carried Fribourg back. Still Gay and Toya made it 21-26 after 10 minutes. Sears, Toya and Yves Dupont increased the Antwerp lead to 9 once more only to see Johnson score 8 during a 13-0 run for a 36-32 lead midway through the period. Antwerp regained the lead before Mrazek and Johnson ended the first half with the hosts up 45-41. Mrazek and Perrier-David spurred the hosts to a 12-point advantage, but Sears and Lichodzijewski kept Antwerp alive as the third period ended 67-59. Sears scored 4 points and Lichodzijewski added a three-point play to get Antwerp within 1 and after Esterkamp increased the hosts' lead from the line, Sergeant tied it at 71-71 with a triple midway through the fourth quarter. The visitors took the lead on a Sergeant triple, but Fribourg kept it close, as Mrazek and Johnson made their free throws down the stretch, matching those of Sergeant. However Toya opened the door for Fribourg when he made just one from the line and Mrazek took advantage with a huge bucket to tie it at 81-81 and force overtime. Esterkamp started the extra period with a pair of free throws, but Sergeant was there with a three to put Antwerp on top. It wouldn't be for long as Perrier-David and Mrazek drilled back-to-back bombs to make it 89-84. Still Antwerp fought on and after a pair of Hanavan free throws, Thomas Lamot brought Antwerp within 1. Mrazek turned the ball over and Sergeant drew a foul with a chance to win it from the line. He tied it with the first, but missed the second and Lichodzijewski couldn't convert the tip-in, leading to a second overtime. Sergeant did make a pair of free throws to start the second OT, but a ping-pong pace ensued with the lead changing hands on nearly every possession. A red-hot Lichodzijewski made it 96-99, but Esterkamp's triple knotted the score at 101-101. Mrazek put the hosts on top once more from the line and Sears failed to match, making only one at the opposite end. Free throws from Esterkamp and Johnson sealed the win as Fribourg opened its ULEB Cup account with a thrilling double-overtime win to be remembered for a long time.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007