On Buducnost VOLI Podgorica's second possession of the second half on Tuesday against Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, Melvin Ejim finished a four-chance play by leaping for an offensive rebound and sticking it back. On his team's next possession, Willie Reed grabbed a missed Danilo Nikolic three and was fouled. He made the first and missed the second. Nikolic was there for the offensive board, cycled the ball to the perimeter and Ejim buried a long jumper. In the first 3 minutes of the second half alone, Buducnost scored 5 points from 5 offensive rebounds while keeping Olimpija scoreless.
That same rebounding and defensive effort throughout the game made the difference as Buducnost defeated Olimpija 79-66 to clinch a ticket to the EuroCup Quarterfinals for the fourth time in club history. Buducnost outrebounded Olimpija 45-31 for the second most boards in club history. It scored 15 second-chance points from 15 offensive boards. Reed, Ejim and Nikolic accounted for two-thirds of the team's offensive rebounds and more than half of Buducnost's points.
"It was a very tough game. We were physical. We disrupted the best players of Cedevita," Coach Dejan Milojevic assessed after the game. "The defense today was excellent and we showed that we can play great defense for the second game in a row – Zadar in a domestic game and now this. We were really tough and I am satisfied."
That toughness could be seen in what are traditionally known as "hustle stats", which Buducnost won nearly all of. In addition to the rebounding and offensive rebounding, Buducnost also had 3 blocks to 0 for Olimpija. The hosts also made the most of Olimpija's 13 turnovers by converting them to 18 points, while the visitors scored just 7 points from Buducnost's 16 turnovers.
In what was a do-or-die game for both teams – Buducnost needed to win by more than 3 points to advance, otherwise Olimpija would have clinched a playoff berth – the home team managed to squeeze out just a little bit more, to hustle just a little harder, to claim victory and keep its EuroCup season alive.