Jacob Pullen is a veteran guard who is known for many things. Chief among them is making jumpers and three-point shots. He has attempted 240 shots from behind the arc in his five seasons in the 7DAYS EuroCup and has made 79. Pullen has many other weapons in his bag, but what would happen on a night when his shot failed him?
He gave an emphatic answer on Wednesday night. Pullen shot 1 for 7 on three-pointers – and his lone triple only came after some help from a friendly rim and backboard. Nevertheless, he went off for 23 points and 5 assists to lead Mornar Bar to an 85-82 victory over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica in the first game between two Montenegrin clubs in the history of the competition.
Pullen relied on all of his tricks. His confidence in his shot meant that defenders had to guard him at the three-point line. Time and again Pullen used his experience to position himself in advantageous situations and then attacked the basket to finish nicely over and around the Buducnost big men. When those big men started to worry about him before he attacked, Pullen teed up his teammates with several clever passes, including two alley-oop feeds to center Uros Lukovic early in the fourth quarter. His final assist came on the game-winner when he dribbled out the clock before dealing to a wide-open Isaiah Whitehead for an open three.
Pullen's point tally was the third-highest for the player in his 42 career EuroCup games. His 7 two-point shots were his second-highest and his 5 assists were a season-high. His effort raised Pullen's scoring average to 17.4 points, which is seventh in the EuroCup this season. He’s shooting 57.1% on two-pointers, which is seventh among guards.
It was the type of performance that might cause some players to pound on their chests and speak about their greatness. Not Pullen. His first thoughts after the game were to compliment his teammates and his opponent: "They're always good, they always play the same way. We just found a way to stay in the game and found a way to win. OT is never easy. Isaiah made a big shot right there and it got us the win," he said.
Moments later, he started to look ahead: "We need to win games at home to get into the Top 16. We got to find a way to win on the road now. We've protected our home court, but we got to win on the road."
Soon to be 31 years of age, Pullen is playing his best basketball and making history for and with Mornar. Victory on this Montenegrin derby is history by itself. The third win this season is already more than Mornar had in its previous EuroCup campaign (2-8 in 2018-19). And now the race is on to carry Mornar to the Top 16.