Caprabo Lleida downed Ural Great 86-69
What was a nightmare until the third quarter for the local fans became a dream in the fourth as Caprabo Lleida defeated Ural Great 86-69 on Tuesday to overcome a five-point deficit from their first game and reach the ULEB Cup quarterfinals. Having made up for an 84-79 loss in Perm, Lleida advances to play Krka Novo Mesto of Slovenia in the next round. During the first three quarters on Tuesday, both teams struggled hard and stood close, but Lleida could not managed to pull away by more than 2 points as Ural Great guarded its advantage from the first game. But thanks to A.J. Bramlett, Roger Grimau and Manel Bosch, the hosts pushed hard in the last quarter to escape victorious. Grimau led Lleida with 17 points, Bramlett added 16, Jaume Comas bagged 14 and Bosch and Michael Ruffin contributed 13 apiece, while the latter also added 16 boards. For Ural, Eddie Shannon was the main offensive weapon with 17 points, Valentin Kubrakov added 15 and Stefan Nadjfeji contributed 11. Chris Anstey, who would finish the game ejected from court due to a tough foul on Comas, pulled 15 boards and added 9 points.
The first plays of the game showed some lack of concentration on both sides, but especially on the guests, as Roger Grimau hit a monster dunk for 4-0. Despite the bed beginning, Ural Great reacted quickly, and Stefan Nadjfeji tied the game for the first time at 4-4. Valentin Kubrakov gave the first warning to the fans that packed the Barris Nord arena from downtown, 4-7. From that point until the end of the first quarter, both teams would alternate the leads, even though Grimau scored 8 points in the period to try to put his team away from the Russians. Eddie Shannon repplied with a three for 10-14. Ural Great put together a tight defense and managed to earn a 7-point lead, 14-21, but a 10-1 run for the hosts sparked by Grimau and Manel Bosch's three allowed the Spaniards to put an end to the first quarter 2 points ahead, 24-22. Things stayed close in the second quarter as well, even though the guests saw how one of their main players, Martin Muursepp, fell into foul trouble with his fourth. The sone defense of Ural Great never allowed the hosts to find an easy way to the basket, even though A.J. Bramlett tried hard. Neither team managed to pull away by more than 2 points, 37-39 in minute 17. The key of the game was to be found in the 15 of 18 free throws by Ural at halftime, while Caprabo Lleida was low at 5 of 10. Two more free throws by Raimonds Vaikulis earned the guests a 4-point lead to defend at the break, 39-43.
After resumption, Bramlett became the decisive man that Lleida needed. The game had become tougher and tougher, and the fans pushed from the stands. And then emerged Bramlett, who sank 8 points in a row to put his team ahead, 49-48. Shannon was still there in time to reply from downtown, but Bramlett scored his 12th point in the period to leave his team still ahead, 55-54. Ural Great showed a lack of ideas in offense and could only survive through three-pointers as Kubrakov and Muursepp hit for three to leave their team with a 2-point lead after 30 minutes, 58-60. The last quarter though, was a different story, since the hosts started with a 10-0 run that set the stands on fire. Sergio Ramos' three put Lleida for the first time in the quarterfinals with a 67-60 score, and the fans started to believe. Ural Great was totally collapsed in offense at the same time that Lleida improved its defense. Shannon was virtually the only offensive weapon of the guests, while on the other side, Bosch hit 5 consecutive points, followed by Jaume Comas' three that earned the first double-digit lead of the game, 79-68. Khryapa scored the last point for the Russians from the free throw line, while Michael Ruffin was the protagonist of the last seconds with his dunks and blocks. And from that point, the hosts only cruised to victory and to the quarterfinals, where they will meet Krka Novo Mesto.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003