KRKA Novo Mesto advanced to the Last 16 on Tuesday night thanks to a thrilling home win over BC Azovmash by 74-70. The win lifts KRKA's record to 3-1 in Group F and, together with Lietuvos Rytas (4-0) advances to the next round. On the other hand, Azovmash, dropping to 1-3, and Le Mans (0-4) are out of the competition. It was a close game in Novo Mesto with both teams taking turns in the lead and exchanging scoring runs. A huge Jure Balazic exploded in the final period to score for his team and put it in a safe place to celebrate. Balazic scored 24 points, Zoran Dragic added 17 and Smiljan Pavic posted 13. For Azovmash, Dan Ewing had 19 points, Rado Rancik contributed 17 plus 10 rebounds and Ricky Minard chipped in with 15.
Two threes by Rado Rancik and Ricky Minard put Azovmash ahead, 2-6, fast and Rancik soon added another buclet to make it 2-8. Luckily for KRKA, smiljan Pavic
woke up soon enough and he made it a one-point game in no time, and then Zoran Dragic even put the hosts ahead, 9-8. However, a very active Hasan Rizvic was
allowing Azovmash to keep jumping ahead in the score. Free throws for each side through Dan Ewing and Dragic took the game to the end of the first period,
dominated by the guests, 20-23. At the start of the second period, both teams stayed close to each other. KRKA managed to start with an 8-0 burst capped by
Jure Balazic's layup, but Azovmash reacted soon enough and after 3 minutes, Minard scored for the 28-25. Newcomer Ratko Varda added his first points for the
guests but KRKA managed to stay ahead and even built a small cushion at at 42-35 after Balazic's three-point play. The last word in the quarter was spoken by
Minard owever, as he put the 42-37 at the break.
The third period started with a 0-9 burst by Azovmash led by Minard, and that continued into a 2-15 as Bogdan Baide blasted a three that made things 44-52.
KRKA woke up with free throws by Dragic, but at this point the guests were dominating the scenario. The hosts were trying to stop the visiting offense but
Ewing and Rancik kept on punishing the rim of KRKA but thanks to a huge Dragic, who hit a free throw to put an end to the third quarter, the hosts were still
alive after 30 minutes, 51-58. The final period would prove decisive to decide the luck of the game. Jure Balazic scored for the hosts but then, only one
more basket for Azovmash fell in the following three minutes. A 9-2 run after that for KRKA capped by Pavic's layup made it 62-63 with 5 minutes left in the
game. Rancik tried to keep the guests alive but finally, the hosts tied the game at 65-65 and even jumped ahead with a new Pavic layup. Entering money time,
Minard pulled up for a three, but Balazic again, had his own three-point play to put KRKA back ahead, 70-68 entering the last minute. After an Azovmash miss, Balazic hit it again and Ewing missed a three. It was a 4-point game for KRKA with 30 seconds to go, in which both teams exchanged free throws as the clock ticked away to the final buzzer allowing KRKA to advance to the Last 16.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011