Akasvayu Girona struggled but managed to take a valuable road win at Hemofarm on Tuesday night by 71-80 in Game 1 of the Last 16 round. Both teams fought hard with tough defenses, and it wasn't until the last quarter that the guests managed to build a solid lead and keep it until the final buzzer. Now Akasvayu will defend a 9-point advantage when Game 2 takes place next Tuesday in Girona, Spain. Marc Gasol led the winners with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Branko Cvetkovic added 15, Victor Sada posted 13 and Arriel McDonald chipped in with 12. For Hemofarm Rawle Marshall had a good scoring night with 21 points and 4 of 7 triples, Milivoje Bozovic added 12, Miljan Pavkovic posted 11 and Milan Macvan tallied 10.
The game started with small bursts by each team to maintain a balanced scoreboard. Akasvayu started 0-4 but Rawle Marshall erased that on his own to make it 5-4. Arriel McDonald capped a 0-5 with a three for 5-11 but Hemofarm reacted again for 9-13 in minute 5. Branko Cvetkovic was very active in the initial minutes for Akasvayu, and he lifted the team to a 10-19, but Hemofarm was back on track with Marshall's five straight points. Milivoje Bozovic joined in and soon the hosts' run was up to 10-0 tu jump ahead by 20-19. Nebojsa Joksimovic finally hit a free throw to tie it at 21-21 after 10 minutes. Ivan Radenovic blasted a bomb from downtown to start Akasvayu's scoring in the second quarter and Roman Montañez did the same to make it 25-27 for the guests until he was replied by Bozovic in the same manner. Balance settled in the second quarter as neither team managed to pull away. Akasvayu was winning the rebounds and assists battles, but Hemofarm's accuracy from the arc kept them in the game. Marshall was Akasvayu's nightmare and scored yet again for 35-34 in minute 16. Cvetkovic and Pavkovic traded triples and the former added two free throws to tie the score at 43-43 at the break.
McDonald opened the second half with a three that sparked a 0-7 burst for Girona, stopped by Marshall again from the charity line and Miljan Pavkovic soon added his three to close the score again. Akasvayu tried to display all its potential in offense and McDonald hit a new three but he was replied by Marshall one more time. McDonald and Sada insisted again and made new threes to launch Akasvayu to a 12-point lead, 53-65, in minute 28. Fernando San Emeterio's three-point play was matched by Milan Macvan's three to close the third quarter with a 58-70 Akasvayu edge. Marshall hit his fourth three to open the last period, but defenses would soon prevail as the game entered a phase with no points. Akasvayu managed to maintain a double-digit lead throughout that period, 62-72, and finally Macvan appeared for the hosts to blast a three that kept things going again. Despite its 19 assists at that point, Akasvayu was struggling now in offense and Stefan Markovic took advantage of that scoring and pulling Hemofarm within 67-72. Thanks to free throws and a basket by Erik Daniels, Girona managed to get a 0-5 run entering the last minute with a 67-77 but more points by Gasol allowed the guests to escape Vrsac with a valuable road win by 9 points, 71-80.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008