There were two winners in Quakenbruck, Germany, on Tuesday as Artland Dragons recorded their first win of the Last 16, while iurbentia Bilbao advanced to the Final Eight. Artland bested Bilbao 84-79, but the visitors already had their ticket to the Final Eight in Turin punched earlier in the evening when Lietuvos Rytas defeated Spirou Charleroi in Lithuania. The Dragons wanted to give their fans a pleasant send off in their last home game of the competition and did so with a thrilling win over one of the strongest team’s in the Eurocup this season. Artland improved to 1-4, but remains in last place in Group L. Bilbao fell to 3-2, but will host L. Rytas next week knowing that it can clinch first place in the group with a win. The hosts used a 9-0 run that bridged the first and second periods to take the lead for good. The lead reached 13 at one point and the margin stood at 45-40 at halftime. Bilbao waited till the fourth quarter before Janis Blums and Damir Markota hit threes in a 0-10 run that made it a 2-point game. The visitors dragged it out until the final minute, but could get no closer, while 4 free throws by Lamont McIntosh in the final minute helped ice the win. Adam Hess paced the Artland attack with 17 points, Dirk Madrich added 15 and Chad Prewiit and Darius Hall scored 13 apiece. Blums led Bilbao with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Marko Banic also netted 16, Salva Guardia produced 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists and Renaldas Seibutis had 11.
Blums fed Seibutis for the game’s first basket before McIntosh got Artland on the scoreboard. Baskets by Seibutis and Guardia pushed the visitors ahead, but Prewiit scored twice to knot the score and soon the Dragons took their first lead, 10-9, on a Hall basket. Paco Vazquez and Prewitt exchanged baskets before Banic put the visitors back on top. However Madrich heated up with a basket on the offensive glass and then a steal and slam. Despite a pair of Markota buckets, triples by Jan Rohdewald and Drew Neitzel kept Artland ahead and Neitzel soon set up Madrich inside to make it 26-21 after 10 minutes. The hosts stayed in control as Flavio Stuckemann opened the second period with a triple and Madrich made it a 10-point game. Paul Johnson’s steal led to a Hess score that caped a 9-0 run. Luke Recker’s triple ended Bilbao’s drought and Quincy Lewis narrowed the gap to 7, however Hess hit from downtown to make it 38-28. Hall converted a three-point play to give Artland its biggest lead, 13 points. Guardia and Drago Pasalic each scored twice and Banic added 2 free throws that completed a 2-10 charge and brought Bilbao within 45-40 at halftime.
Prewitt, Hess and Neitzel drilled triples on Artland’s first three possessions of the second half as the Dragins reclaimed a double-digit advantage. Guardia and Banic teamed up to bring Bilbao within 56-50 midway through the third quarter. Hall re-stretched the lead to 10 points, but Markota and Guardia made it 61-54 at the end of the third quarter. Banic closed the gap even further with a pair of free throws, however Hess fed Hall for a slam and then sank a pair of free throws. Hall then grabbed an offensive rebound on Stuckemann’s missed free throw and scored as Artland stormed ahead 70-58. Blums answered with a triple and Bilbao turned up its defense a notch. Seibutis free throws and a Guardia layup cut the deficit one more to 5 and Markota capped a 0-10 surge with a three to make it 70-68. Hess fed Hall inside to end Artland’s drought and McIntosh drilled a clutch triple for the hosts. Janis Blums converted a basket-plus-foul to make it 75-71. Prewitt and Banic swapped free throws, but Bilbao faltered as it missed its next four shots. The Dragons didn’t take advantage and Blums suddenly came through with another three-point play to make it 78-76. McIntosh went to the line and made just 1, but Madrich grabbed the rebound and passed to McIntosh, who was fouled again. McIntosh added one more free throw before Markota missed for Bilbao from downtown. This time McIntosh hit 2 from the line to ice his team’s first win of the Last 16.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009